Following over 21 years at Gidleigh Park in Devon, Michael Caines MBE and Brownsword Hotels confirmed this week that Michael will hang up his apron there for the last time on January 3rd 2016.
The announcement concludes a successful 12 year partnership with owners Christina and Andrew Brownsword which started with the couple’s purchase of The Royal Clarence Hotel in 2003, later to
become the first property in the ABode hotel group, followed by the purchase of Gidleigh Park in 2005. During their time working together, Gidleigh Park has been awarded two Michelin stars every year, now for 17 consecutive years, as well as Michael being named AA Chef of the Year in 2007 and awarded an MBE in 2006.
Andrew Brownsword CBE commented, “I’d like to thank Michael for a wonderful 12 years working together, and all his efforts to keep pushing and improving our offering, not only at Gidleigh Park but also throughout our Brownsword Hotels group. Since we met in Exeter more than a decade ago, we have been on a journey to keep exceeding our guests’ expectations and I am proud of what we have achieved. Today, Gidleigh Park is considered one of the finest country house hotels in the UK, and chefs that have trained with Michael now head up the kitchens at our sister hotels, including Michelin starred Sam Moody at The Bath Priory and Robby Jenks at Amberley Castle”.
Michael, who will now be pursuing new ventures in Devon, Shropshire, Wales and Abu Dhabi, commented,
“Leaving Gidleigh Park will be an emotional parting. A good part of my life has been spent in this very special place on the edge of Dartmoor. We have enjoyed some truly wonderful years and I’m immensely proud of what we — my team and I, as well as everyone involved with Gidleigh Park — have achieved over more than two decades. I have enjoyed a fantastic career at Gidleigh Park and over the past 12 years within the Brownsword Hotels group. I would like to thank Andrew and Christina for all their support, as well as the teams both here at Gidleigh Park and throughout the group. I came to Gidleigh Park as a young man at the start of my career. Paul and Kay Henderson believed in me, and with their support, as well as the support of the Brownswords, we have all achieved more than we could have hoped for.
I leave Gidleigh Park with the fondest memories of one of my favourite places on earth, served by an excellent and caring team. I’m proud and confident that we have created a lasting legacy and that whoever takes over from me will be able to build on the fabulous platform that we have created. Under the custodianship of the Brownswords, Gidleigh Park will remain in secure hands. I wish them all the best for a successful future.”
Michael joined Gidleigh Park as Head Chef in 1994 when it was under the ownership of Paul and Kay Henderson. Michael’s original and brilliant cuisine made an immediate impact, using both classic and modern techniques and methods he had learned working with some of the world’s top chefs in France and England, while making full use of the bounteous produce of Devon and the south west. Awards and accolades soon came, with The Independent awarding Michael ‘Chef of the Year’ in 1994, and in 1999, Michelin awarded Gidleigh Park its second star, which it has held continuously for the past 17 years. In 2002 Michael was awarded ‘Chef of the Year’ at the prestigious Cateys Awards.
The Brownswords’ purchase of Gidleigh Park in 2005, followed by an extensive and sensitive restoration of the whole property including the addition of a new wing, brought Gidleigh Park to an even higher level and both the hotel and restaurant continued to win awards and accolades. In 2010 Gidleigh Park was voted number one on the Sunday Times list of the ‘UK’s 100 best restaurants’; in 2012 it was awarded in the Sunday Times Food List ‘best restaurant and best wine list in the south west’ as well as ‘Hotel of the Year’ in Food & Travel Magazine’s awards; and in 2013-14, the Sunday Times Harden’s Food List once again rated Gidleigh Park as the best restaurant in the UK. Michael’s last day at Gidleigh Park will be January 3rd 2016, before the hotel’s annual one week closure.
A new Executive Head Chef for Gidleigh Park has been appointed and Brownsword Hotels expects to announce this appointment later in October. During his final months at Gidleigh Park, the restaurant menu will feature some of Michael’s most popular signature dishes from throughout his time at the hotel. Available on the lunch, a la carte and signature menus, early booking is recommended. Michael will continue to offer Michael Caines Restaurants at ABode Manchester, Chester and Exeter until spring 2015 when these restaurants will relaunch under new branding.
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