Five minutes with Michael Caines MBE
We have five minutes with Michael Caines, a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Lympstone Manor in Exmouth, to discuss all things food. He tells us his first memories of cooking, what ingredient he’d take to a desert island and why bouillabaise is the one recipe he can’t live without.
What’s your first memory of food?
I do not have one particular memory, but I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family where home-cooked meals with homegrown produce were on the table for the family to gather around and enjoy together. Mum always taught me very humble ways of cooking and this still influences me, even today.
What’s the first recipe you learned to cook?
Thinking back to learning from my mother in the kitchen, we used to bake lots of cakes such as the good old Victoria sponge, fruit cakes, flapjacks and biscuits. It was always such a homely experience and one that resonates with me.
What’s the one ingredient you’d take to a desert island with you?
I absolutely love working with gurnard, it has such a wonderful texture and great flavour, quite similar to mullet. It is a slightly lesser known fish; however it is incredibly versatile and flavoursome.
Personally, if I was stuck on a desert island, I think a freshly barbecued piece of gurnard would be the perfect way to dine – perhaps with a fresh coconut on the side to wash it down with.
What’s the recipe you can’t live without?
I really love a traditional bouillabaisse; the flavours are fantastic and it’s a great go-to recipe.
I’ve recently been using slightly lesser known fish to create something delicious and flavoursome as part of the Relais & Châteaux Fish Unknown campaign for World Oceans Day (8 June) and it’s inspired a range of different variations on the traditional bouillabaisse recipe.
What’s the food you’d miss the most?
I am a real lover of shellfish but hopefully I would have the skill to source some for dinner… if stuck on an island!
I would really miss a good piece of beautifully cooked Ruby Red Devon steak, so perhaps if I could fly that over somehow, then I would have some superb ingredients for a surf and turf supper.
You can have a one-off dinner party on your island…who would you invite?
It would have to be my family, my friends and my beautiful children.
Which cookbook would you take with you to the island?
I would hope to take my own Michael Caines at Home book with me, as a great reminder of all of the wonderful dishes I love to cook at home. Failing that, any of Monsieur Raymond Blanc’s books would be a great comfort to me. As my mentor and culinary master, I would certainly find inspiration to be able to rustle something up with produce from the island.
Michael Caines is a chef ambassador and owner of Lympstone Manor. On 8 June, Relais & Chateaux hotels will celebrate UN initiative World Oceans Day. The day will shine a light on lesser-known fish with the aim to raise awareness of species that are abundant but under-utilised. Visit unworldoceansday.org for more information.