10 minutes with: Michael Caines MBE

The  Staff Canteen

Michael Caines MBE, the two Michelin-starred chef, of Gidleigh Park in Devon talks about his plans for London, bland brands dominating the high street and the fact that he thinks it’s an insult that the UK doesn’t have that many three Michelin stars.

“I’m disappointed that there aren’t more three star Michelin restaurants in the UK I think that’s an insult to a lot of fantastic restaurants in the UK” said Michael. Even though 14 new restaurants gained one star in this year’s Michelin Guide no new two or three stars were awarded and Michelin Guide editor Rebecca Burr said: “the chefs are really the only ones who can answer why there aren’t any this year”.

Michael explained his disappointment and said: “It’s purely because I can’t believe when you go toMichelin guide New York that there are more Michelin-starred restaurants than in the entire UK and I think that’s a shame.”

Looking forward for next year Michael hopes things will start to change for the UK food scene, he believes at the moment it is dominated by “bland brands”. He said: “The solution to retail has been to fill it with a load of chains and I don’t think that’s healthy.

“The independents are being squeezed and the independent sector in the high-street are void of any creativity. It’s bland brands that dominate and it’s tough when you see the rents that these city centres are trying to charge and you understand why independents don’t have a chance.”

However with the increase of popularity in pubs Michael doesn’t just want to see this creativity thriving in the pub scene.
“I want to see that across the high street,” he explained. “I’m looking forward to next year where I hope to see the amazing talents of chefs in the UK continue to develop. For the next generation to get the opportunity they deserve and come through with the economic outlook looking slightly better with people investing and taking opportunities forward.”

Opportunities that Michael also hopes to take forward in the New Year with a new venture. “I’m open minded at this stage but I am in talks about an opportunity with a fantastic London hotel,” he said. “I like hotels as I’ve obviously got expertise there that I could bring but also a stand-alone restaurant is not without risk; I’ve got to think about my time commitments.”

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When asked why it was London in particular that he had his eye on he explained: “With London being the capital, and having an international market that doesn’t necessarily get the opportunity to come straight to Gidleigh, I see it as an additional element to what I’m up to at the moment.

Michael-Caines“We’ve got restaurants in Exeter, Manchester, Chester and I’ve picked up a project in North Devon as well but London seems an obvious opportunity and one that I shouldn’t ignore really. Being at Gidleigh Park for 20 years I thought it would be good to have something to compliment that.”

With many chefs opening restaurants in hotels over the years this certainly isn’t a “new concept” as Michael explained: “The idea I don’t think would be a particularly surprising one and I think if anything it’s long overdue. It would be a good to have a presence in London and to find a partner that will be allow me to open a restaurant in the same way that Simon Rogan has done and other chefs have done over time.”

Michael is keen to emphasise this doesn’t mean he is leaving Gidleigh Park anytime soon and sees the London move as something that he wants to do alongside it.

He added: “There’s lots of people who have come to London to do restaurants as a joint venture and do that along their existing commitments.  It’s my intention to do something next year and I’m talking to a number of people to determine the best place to go.

Nathan Outlaw for example and what he’s done at The Capital really strikes me as a good opportunity and obviously there are time commitments to get these things open and running but that has also added value for him and to his portfolio that he has got back in Cornwall.”

Let us know what you think of Michael's thoughts on Michelin and expanding his business in London over on @canteentweets

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th November 2014

10 minutes with: Michael Caines MBE