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Gidleigh Park.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country. United Kingdom,Chagford

Michael Caines MBE

Chef
Gidleigh Park Chagford TQ13 8HH

I loved food as a child--growing up in a large family, helping my mother in her large vegetable garden--but I didn’t think of it as a career until I was about 16 years old. I began to work part-time at a restaurant where I was told I had talent.

I’m inspired nowadays by observing the seasons, sampling other restaurants, and traveling to other food regions. Recently, I was in Istanbul, which I found very interesting in the way east and west come together there. Last week it was France.


What was your most moving culinary experience?
The first time I went to eat at Raymond Blanc’s restaurant. I was nineteen at the time and I don’t come from a privileged family. That was where my passion started. I had never had the opportunity to eat in a place like that. The individual dishes of the tasting menu, the quality of the food, but more than anything it was the totality of the experience.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
When I worked in Robuchon’s kitchen in Paris, it was tough but quite funny. I was there a total of two and a half years: tough cuisine, tough kitchen. Once Robuchon confronted Gordon Ramsey about dish he was working on: “What is this? What is this?” And Gordon answered, “It’s crap.” The regime there is legendary: Very old school. It’s a tough place!

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
In cooking at home, there’s no right or wrong. Be adventurous. Challenge your technical abilities, build a repertoire of dishes, develop skills over time, try different things each week. Taste as you go and acquire confidence.


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