Chef Michael Caines grew up near Exeter where his parents, who were school teachers recognised his early interest in food and cooking and set him on his way to a culinary career. Following two years of catering college, an Exeter chef sent him to the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. He was then recommended to Raymond Blanc in Oxfordshire, for whom he had to do a three-day trial without pay. Three years later, Blanc arranged for him to cook at the Michelin three-star Cote d’Or in Burgundy. He cooked there for 15 months before moving to another three-star establishment, Restaurant Jamin, in Paris.
Michael’s career to date has been well documented, through to becoming Head Chef at Gidleigh Park Hotel in Devon.
Early In 2017, Michael opened Lympstone Manor, a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant set in Parkland overlooking the river Exe near Exmouth, Devon. He describes Lympstone as “the realisation of a dream, my vision of country house hospitality for the 21st Century”. This has been a very personal project for him and one that has seen him involved in every detail. From the first vines being planted to establish a vineyard in the estate to produce, in three years time, a house champagne-method sparkling wine.
We asked Michael about his continued involvement in catering for the Williams Formula 1 team.
Q: You have spent a couple of seasons working with the Williams F1 team, in particular in Monaco… how much fun was that and what was Monaco in 2017 like?
A: Being anywhere with Williams F1 is amazing but Monaco is the best. This year I was able to cook on a yacht for Williams and go to their VIP party, along with attending events on the Financial Times yacht. I was also invited to Martini’s VIP party which was a brilliant evening. We have also just held a charity event with Williams here at the manor.
Q: Which restaurant would you like to go to? (that you have not had opportunity to visit)
Q: Japanese cuisine sometimes includes ingredients we may not be familiar with, Is there a food you would not eat?
A: Bugs, or anything very obscure like a form of testicles or spiders.
Q: What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”
A: I would make this the longest meal ever, most probably a tasting menu which included a seafood platter to start followed by roast chicken with a combination of summer fruits and sorbet to finish.
Q: If you could change any misconceptions about restaurants/food, what would they be?
A: I view food like it is an elite sport, great food, and food wealth is what it’s about. Not about the expense but how well it is cooked and how good it is. There is plenty of places that have great food and are cheaper. It’s to do with the combination of flavours and spices.
Q: What is your favourite dish at Lympstone Manor in which you use produce from your most local supplier?
A: There is a number at present, however Jacobs Lamb, boulangerie & confit shoulder, pea puree and tapenade jus, the lamb is from Powderham Castle, which we can see from our terrace.
Q: If you could invite any Chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?
A: Keith Floyd because he is a legend.
Favourite Tables were delighted to include Lympstone Manor on our Unique Destinations pages and wondered what you would consider as your own favourite tables….
Firstly Zuma in London because of its fusion of Japanese cooking and Asian styled foods, and then The Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Raymond Blanc – it is my favourite country house hotel, the food and experience is exceptional.
It is our great pleasure to speak with Steven Ellis, who is Chef Patron at the newly opened Oxford Blue, “a pub that serves great food” – that’s his introduction to what is one of the most popular New Openings of 2017.
Originally from Lancashire, Steven spent most of his childhood growing up in the Middle East. Aged 16 he returned to England, enrolling at the Birmingham College of Food & Tourism, before moving to London to follow his dream.
Steven’s talents were developed working in well-known restaurants such as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, but his vision of creating an extraordinary culinary experience within the comfort of a country style gastro pub came from his time spent at Andrew Pern’s Star Inn in Harome.
His passion to promote a part of our country’s heritage that hasn’t so much been forgotten but needs to be brought back to life drives him. His dishes are sophisticated yet familiar, a perfect match for the relaxed surroundings that this charming pub has to offer.
We asked chef how he would best describe the Oxford Blue:
” I think of the Oxford Blue very much as a pub. We have locals who come in for a drink and also people who like to come in to dine with us. The beauty of the Oxford Blue is that you can come for a casual drink while reading the newspaper by the open fire or come in with friends for a meal. But also you can bring the other half and enjoy a romantic meal for two. The Oxford Blue has the ability to change for everyone’s needs whether it be a quick meal at lunch or a long evening of 3-4 courses with friends and family.”
The Oxford Blue has had some amazing reviews and coverage in the press, we asked – What do you think about reviews?
“I feel reviews are healthy for restaurants but only if they are presented in a constructive way, so the owners and staff can take it on board and help better themselves and their business. It’s always good to get an outsiders opinion as sometimes the obvious things can be overlooked when you are working long hours and focused on delivering what you believe to be the best you can do. What I don’t agree on is when someone has a grudge towards a business or just unhappy with them and because of this come in with a negative attitude where everything the restaurant does is seen as ‘wrong’ “
You have worked in Fine Dining Michelin Star awarded restaurants. How important is a Michelin star?
“The benefits I feel a restaurant achieves by obtaining a star is that one, they earn the right to be listed in this exclusive guide but also become noticed by a wider audience of foodies, people who share the same passion for eating out as we do for delivering a high level food and service. But can also attract people who appreciate the hard work that is put into delivering a great experience.”
Achieving your dream here at Oxford Blue must have been hard work, who influenced you in the past?
“One of my biggest idols, since I was young, has to be Marco Pierre White. The passion he had to deliver the best experience to his guests is inspiring but, also the way he liked to push boundaries and not follow the trends proved to me that if you believe in something don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise because you have a responsibility to yourself to make sure it comes true! “
If you could invite any Chef past or present to cook alongside you for one night who would that be and why?
“As I mentioned previously my idol being Marco Pierre White it would only feel right in saying that I would love to cook alongside this industry legend for one night”.
What is your favourite dish on the Oxford Blue menu in which you use produce from your most local supplier?
“My favourite dish has to be my ‘suckling pig’s trotter’. But, in regards to local suppliers and having such a huge passion for using game, I work very closely with the head game keeper of Windsor Great Park. Being able to use an abundance of different types of Game, it allows my imagination to run wild with ideas I only once dreamt of being able to create”.
Staying with favourite dishes, What would be your last dish (to eat) “the death row question”
“Most likely a Venison Wellington, being such a lover of all things ‘game’ “
Finally, Favourite Tables, where do you like to dine when you get the chance and the time away from your own kitchen.
To be Confirmed…..
Rubino Kitchen is a lovely little restaurant set in a lodge on a farm in Maldon , Essex and a real credit to the county as this small team under the guidance of Head Chef Rob produces some great and interesting dishes from using great local produce.
It’s a small restaurant but has a great friendly feel from the moment you arrive until you leave . So onto the evening itself they have a good menu where you can choose from 1 to 5 courses which can come as a starter or main or as we did we went for the Tasting Menu so that we could try every course.
We started with a nice and refreshing White Grape Gazpacho which was delicious before moving on to what was my favourite course the Haddock Scotch Egg with peas , raisin & curried puffed rice it was heaven. Then a Beef Carpaccio delightful followed by a Sweetcorn Risotto which came with Balsamic Vinegar interesting but it worked then to balance the Menu we had a lovely Cod with Octopus Caponata it was beautiful.
Now onto the main course of Braised Lamb Tortellini & Smoked Aubergine Purée with Gem Lettuce & Beans a great hearty course to finish well almost because there’s always time for Desserts, yes Desserts .
There were three on offer so of course we had to try them all the first being a Blackcurrant Panna Cotta with Honeycomb which I got to eat myself as my wife decided to have some Gorgonzola Cheese & Crackers. Next was Mille Feuille and to finish a Baked Alaska with Lemon Ice Cream nicely made by Dana .
I have to say it was a really pleasant evening good food and very friendly service so look forward to returning soon
We had A really delightful evening meal set in the lovely Berry Restaurant at the Taplow Hotel. On arrival we were seated on the patio where we browsed the Menu, which is very English. Overlooking the lovely grounds of the Hotel while enjoying our Aperitif was a perfect start to our evening. When we moved into the restaurant it seems we were very warm welcomed by almost every member of staff and this level of personal service continued throughout the evening.
We started with a fantastic Bread selection before our lovely starters of a Beef Tartare & Ham Hock Terrine. We then moved onto the mains which were Cod Fillet & Chips with Samphire and my lovely Lamb Loin with Boulangere Potatoes and amazing beer braised Shallots accompanied by a nice bottle of the Berri Estates House Wine .
Then came desserts, a deconstructed Rhubarb Crumble & my Olive Oil Cake. We finished with coffee & Petit Fours in the lounge . I have to say the quality of the food was really good and the friendly service we received made for a lovely evening, as part of our overnight stay.
Jahdre Hayward was born in Bermuda, at 15 he moved to the United States to live with his aunt and uncle while he studied culinary arts in Tampa Florida. When his studies were complete he moved to the UK and gained a commis job at The Savoy Hotel, London under Anton Edelmann, where he progressed quickly up the rankings to Chef de Partie. Jahdre`s employment in London and the Home Counties also includes Hanbury Manor, Rules Restaurant, the Oxo Tower, Novelli in the City and The Ritz.
Amanda Hayward was born and brought up in Essex and lived in the family owned traditional 17th century free house the Forest Gate Inn which is situated on the outskirts of Epping Forest and the charming market town of Epping. Amanda knew from an early age she was interested in cooking and after leaving school she took a place at Westminster College and trained to be a chef. She has gained experience in many fine restaurants in London and abroad including Simpsons on the Strand, London Capital Club, and then started her own catering company.
Jahdre met Amanda when they both worked at The London Capital Club. They travelled to Australia in 2003 and Jahdre worked briefly at Guillaume at Bennelong, Sydney Opera House whilst experiencing life in Australia. They returned to London for 3 years before migrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne. Jahdre worked as a sous chef at The National Gallery then moved on to become head chef at the Melbourne Wine Room followed by The Millswyn Restaurant. Amanda whilst in Melbourne went from being a chef to a waiter and after working at Grossi Florentino`s and Maze by Gordon Ramsey went on to work at Circa, The Prince and became assistant restaurant manager of the two hat restaurant.
After five and a half years in Melbourne and gaining Australian citizenship, Jahdre and Amanda decided to return to the UK to oversee the development of Haywards in the grounds of the family owned pub the Forest Gate Inn.
The restaurant was converted from an old coach house, stable and skittle alley. Amanda and Jahdre oversaw the whole process to create their dream restaurant, sympathetically restoring the buildings and retaining many original features. Haywards opened in May 2013 and has gone from strength to strength and both Amanda and Jahdre are passionate about continuous development and progression for the business. The Haywards kitchen garden is thriving and the restaurant has been working with a local bee keeper to keep some bee colonies and produce their own honey.
With Jadhre’s global background, our questions were many. Here are some of them:
Influences – now and then?
“My grandmother, with her love of food and family, was really inspiring and I used to love to watch her in the kitchen. The chef who has really influenced me is Brett Graham at The Ledbury. His passion for the industry and for sourcing quality local produce is something that we have adopted at Haywards. He is also passionate about his customers and our many conversations have influenced decisions we have made”
What are your views on the difference between Australian and British restaurant industries?
“There are quite a lot of differences between restaurants and food styles. All are positive differences, and in terms of gaining experience and developing my career, I feel very privileged to have worked in many great restaurants in both locations. Australian restaurants are often slightly Asian inflenced and there are many different products available and not so much emphasis on the seasons. Due to the warmer climates across the country there is more produce available year round. There is also access to beautiful and more unusual fresh fish such as snapper, barramundi (similar to sea bass and delicious!) and yabbies, which I love. However, here in the UK I really enjoy the fact that our native produce is seasonal and we can change our menus accordingly. We also have fantastic, quality British produce and our scallops are amazing!”
If you were not a chef – where would you be now?
“My career path was destined to been an aircraft mechanic but whilst studying, I took a part time job in a kitchen and my fate was sealed!”
Are there restaurants you would like to go to?
“If I am lucky enough to travel to the Far East again, I would love to dine at Sukiabashi Jiro, a three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Japan. Another three Michelin starred restaurant is Michel Bras in France which is also high on my list.
Haywards Honey – what is your favourite honey dish?
“We have a beautiful dish on our menu described as Honey, Dill, Almond. It is a honey parfait garnished with honeycomb, bee pollen and dill ice cream”
A chef to work with – past or present?
“I would love to work alongside Michael Caines. I have dined at Gidleigh Park twice and really admire him for his determination, drive and skill” I saw that his latest venue Lympstone Manor is featured on favourite tables so I will be booking dinner there soon.
Finally – where are your favourite tables?
One of my favourite tables has to be The Ledbury in Notting Hill. Always an amazing experience and I love everything about this restaurant.
I also think The Artichoke in Amersham is a fantastic restaurant. They are gaining a lot of recognition but deserve more!
Finally, I celebrated my birthday just before Christmas at the Bildeston Crown in Suffolk. We had a wonderful stay and a really great meal in their restaurant so I am sure that they will go on to achieve great things.
This was the first time we’ve been here for an evening and what an excellent dining experience it was . A very warm and friendly greeting on arrival then escorted to our table to let the festivities begin. We decided to go for the Tasting Menu with matching Wines and I have to say it was heaven.
Starting with a fantastic Trout dish then an amazing Crab Thermidor followed by a delightful Artichoke dish and stunning Cod course then on to the main courses and my highlight a glorious Venison with orange curd and the braised Beef which was very rich .
The matching wines were a delight coming from Italy,Hungary,Austria,South Africa and France. Now to dessert a fabulous Poached Pear Galette and a Cambridge Cream & Rhubbarb .
All in all it was truly a fantastic evening which was made even better due to the great warm and excellent service from every member of staff . So if it’s a fantastic evening with amazing food and wine in a great little town then take a trip to Amersham and visit this restaurant. I’m already looking forward to returning in June
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About Favourite Tables
Our ethos is about places people love – always has been, always will be.
We know that most people choose where to eat based on recommendations from friends and family, a social interaction – a Social Marketplace
Favourite Tables is just that – our recommendations and reviews are from people who love where they go and go back to.
The popularity of each Favourite Tables restaurant is assured on the Social Marketplace and through the restaurant reviews they receive.
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