Michelin Starred Chef Michael Caines Debuts His Next Venture

chef michael caines united kingdom

Michelin starred chef Michael Caines, the renowned chef patron of Lympstone Manor Hotel & vineyard, has opened his second Cornish restaurant. Renamed the Harbourside Refuge, it used to be operated by Rick Stein.

Lympstone Manor Hotel united kingdom
Credit: Steven Brownhill

Inside the Harbourside Refuge

The Harbourside Refuge on the quayside of the pretty coastal town of Porthleven near Helston in Cornwall, England. They focus on providing a relaxed dining experience using only local produce. Menus change according to the season. Prominent dishes include Cornish Mackerel with gooseberry and grain mustard relish or Cornish crab, prawns and avocado salad.

michael cannes porthleven uk
michael caines restaurant waitstaff uk

Michael Caines and Sustainable European Cuisine

Michael Caines has a global reputation for distinctive European cuisine utilizing the finest local produce. Although influenced by mentors like Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons and Joel Robuchon in Paris, Michael attributes his love of local food to his mum.

He says “I grew up in a large family, and my love of food and cooking came from the big family meals we always shared together, prepared by mother, who was a wonderful cook. My father loved to grow vegetables and fruit in our garden, so I grew up appreciating the flavors of the freshest foods, picked that day and simply prepared.”

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Lympstone Manor. Credit: David Griffen Photography

His Culinary and Personal Journey

Undeterred by losing his arm in a car accident in 1994, Michael donned a prosthetic arm and returned quickly to his job as head chef at Gidleigh Park. Looking back on the experience, he believes it made him all the more determined to succeed. In 2002, he was named Britain’s Chef of the Year.

In 2016, he moved on to what has become his flagship, Lympstone Manor, with the aim of setting a new benchmark for hospitality. He describes it as ‘the realization of a dream, my vision of country house hospitality.’ Menus at Lympstone bear witness to his skill with its extensive range.

The Menu at Lympstone Manor

Diners can choose between a lunch menu, A la Carte Menu and curated tasting menus. These include Taste of the Estuary with Lobster ravioli, barbecued Sea Bream, Lyme Bay scallops, butter poached turbot and roasted red mullet.

Within three years, Lympstone Manor gained three Michelin stars, and Michael had acquired coastal restaurants in Exmouth & Maenporth serving dishes such as Lyme Bay Lobster Thermidor, Lyme Bay scallops with seaweed butter, Cornish fish covered in Sharps Brewery beer batter and Red Ruby Steak cooked over charcoal.

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Lympstone Manor.

Even the drinks on offer come from the region. These include Devon cider, Devon wine, local gins, rum and vodka while coffee is provided a small independent roaster in Cornwall.

Community and Charity Outreach

In addition to running his restaurant chain, he is an active participant in regional community & charity work, appears frequently on TV programs such as Masterchef and The Great British Menu and works with Exeter College to run the Michael Caines Academy training the next generation of chefs and restaurateurs.

He has also gained an MBE from HM the Queen for services to hospitality, and cooked at the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, London.

As a chef, Michael is revered within the industry. Commenting on his work, Relais & Chateaux Chefs say that it is his ‘brilliant creativity allied with his global taste and vision that allows him to transform seasonal and regional food into dishes of rare precision, focus and flavor.’

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Chef Michael Caines at Porthleven.

Chef Caines’s Favorite Ingredient

Although Michael is renowned for his use of all types of regional produce, his favorite ingredient is Dartmoor Lamb. He attributes this to the unique way in which Dartmoor Lamb is bred, pastured, and slaughtered together with its flavor and texture. Diners can enjoy the taste of the young lamb in spring and summer, while later in the year, older lamb is carefully aged to tenderize and bring out the flavor.

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Angela Youngman
Angela Youngman is a UK based freelance journalist specialising in food & drink, travel, tourism and leisure. Her travels, together with her love of good, local food has resulted in lots of fascinating experiences throughout Europe. Whether learning to make gin and cider, or discovering the delights of specialist cheeses and idiosyncratic markets and producers; it is a constant adventure into a world of brilliant food and drink. Add to that the fun of finding out about the history and heritage of food and how it has affected lives across the centuries.