We chatted to Two Michelin-starred Michael Caines about his favourite foodie memories and the healthy ingredients he loves using.
Michael Caines is one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs. He was at the helm at Gidleigh Park in Devon for 21 years, where he earned two Michelin stars for his modern cuisine. Michael has cooked in 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, was awarded AA Chef’s Chef of the Year, and received an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry. He recently opened Lympstone Manor, a Grade II-listed Georgian hotel and restaurant overlooking the Exe estuary.
Tell us about your latest venture?
I recently opened my first hotel, Lympstone Manor. It’s the culmination of a year and a half’s work, so it’s a genuinely exciting time for me. I want to make it an exceptional experience in every way – wonderful food, fine wines, magnificent rooms and a breathtaking view. This is a country house hotel for the 21st century and I want everyone to have a Cinderella moment here.
What are your personal healthy goals?
I’ve recently lost 12kg – I’ve reduced my portion sizes, I drink more water, alcohol is a weekend treat, I eat bread only in the morning and I’ve weaned myself off sugary tea. I’ll keep running my 10 miles on a Sunday and continue doing The Ladies Walk [a walk around the Manor’s grounds that’s 10,000 steps] daily. I have loads of energy.
Which healthy foods do you always have in your kitchen?
Salmon, chicken, eggs, lots of vegetables and salad, avocados, brown rice, olive oil, coconut oil and balsamic.
What healthy ingredients do you enjoy using?
Aromatic cooking is key – lots of broths, less meat and more fish, low-sodium and low-fat meals. Japanese cuisine is excellent and brilliant for your health.
Which food reminds you of your childhood?
A Sunday roast. I’m the youngest of six, so I grew up in a large family and the table was always a welcome place. Sharing food with family and friends sums up happiness.
Any tips for making a Sunday lunch healthier?
Remove the skin from a roast chicken before serving, boil the potatoes and add spices and herbs for flavour.
Who were your food influencers?
My mum, for sure. Raymond Blanc taught me about seasonality and Joel Robuchon is an amazing technician. Bernard Loiseau, too.
How do you balance healthy food with treats?
I keep weekends guilt-free and am mindful the rest of the week. Though my guilty pleasure is a takeaway – Indian, Chinese or Thai.
How do you deal with the stresses of a busy kitchen?
Running gives me a physical release and it’s also when I work through any problems in my mind. I’ve got better at dealing with stress. You need to build a team you trust.
How do you wind down at the end of a busy day?
I love music of all types. It decompresses me.
What’s your most memorable meal?
It was at Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons when I was 19. It was one of Raymond Blanc’s classic tasting menus and the food was incredible. Though it wasn’t just about the food – it was the service and the whole experience.
Any kitchen gadgets you couldn’t live without?
My chef’s knife, a garlic press and a hand blender.
What’s your favourite all-time recipe?
I’m torn between two – my mum’s Christmas pudding and a shoulder of lamb with rosemary and my special pommes boulangére – layered potatoes with onions, garlic, stock and sometimes bacon.
Any foodie programmes you regularly tune into?
My Kitchen Rules, Great British Menu, MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off.
Is there a foodie culture you especially love?
I love the French and Italian way of life. They really take time to eat.
What’s your desert island ingredient?
One I wouldn’t get bored of. Chicken!
What do you think about clean eating?
I think it’s healthy to have less sugar and eat food that stimulates weight loss. But I also think dairy is good for you. You have to be much more aware today of dietary needs like gluten free.
Avo or eggs – what would you choose on toast?
How would you like people to describe the food you make?
Honest. Full of flavour. At Lympstone, there will always be food that celebrates our natural, seasonal and local ingredients – crab, mullet, seabass and Devon lamb.
What does working with Vitality mean to you?
I think we share the same energy and passion about the wellbeing of others – the same values and ethos about keeping people well.