Michael Caines

Thursday 21st September 2006 00:00

Overall ranking: 22 (55)

Chef ranking: 5 (7)

Michael Caines - Snapshot
Michael Caines is the two Michelin-starred chef who has become a successful restaurateur and hotelier to boot.

He is the founder of Michael Caines Restaurants and an operational partner and director of Abode Hotels, a boutique city-centre hotel group he launched in 2005 in partnership with greetings card millionaire Andrew Brownsword. 

The group has three Abode hotels (in Exeter, Glasgow, and Canterbury) and two more properties in the pipeline.

Brownsword separately owns the Bath Priory hotel and the Sydney House hotel in Chelsea, London. In February 2005 he snapped up Gidleigh House hotel in Devon, where Caines first rose to prominence and will continue to work as head chef.

Michael Caines - Career guide
Michael Caines, who was born in Exeter in 1969, worked at Grosvenor House hotel and Ninety Park Lane in London before spending three years with his key mentor, Raymond Blanc, at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. He then studied under superchefs Joel Robuchon and the late Bernard Loiseau in France.

He returned to the UK in 1994 as head chef of Gidleigh Park country house hotel in Chagford, Devon. In 1999 he set up Michael Caines Restaurants and took over the food and beverage operation at Exeter’s historic Royal Clarence hotel in a profit-share deal with owner Corus & Regal hotels in 2000.

He became chef-consultant at the Bristol Marriott Royal hotel in July 2003 and found time between 2000 and 2004 to act as consultant-chef to contract caterer Baxter & Platts.

Caines struck up his partnership with Brownsword in October 2003 to buy the Royal Clarence for £4.5m. They rescued Glasgow’s Arthouse hotel from receivership in 2004, acquired Canterbury’s County hotel in May 2005 and went on to launch Abode Hotels in September 2005 with the reopening of the Exeter hotel after a £3m revamp.

Michael Caines - What we think
Caines’s drive and staying power were dramatically illustrated when he took on the challenging role of head chef at Gidleigh Park, an AA top 200 hotel. Just two months into the job, Caines lost his right arm in a horrific car accident. Yet within two weeks he was back in the kitchen part-time and working full-time two weeks later. His courage won him the 1996 People of the Year award from RADAR (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation).

The following year, he retained the Michelin star won by his predecessor, Shaun Hill. More accolades were to follow, including a Caterer Acorn 1996, and a Relais Gourmand award and the Catey Hotel of the Year award in 1998. The jewel in the crown came in 1999 in the form of a second Michelin star and, in 2001, Caines took home the Catey Chef of the Year award.

His admiration of Blanc as a chef, restaurateur and hotelier has moulded his own career path. Caines launched himself as a businessman with the creation of Michael Caines Restaurants in 1999 which led to the creation of signature restaurants at Exeter’s Royal Clarence hotel and the Bristol Marriott Royal (a relationship he ended in 2006 to focus on Abode).

The seeds of Abode Hotels were planted in October 2003 when he teamed up with Brownsword, to realise his long-frustrated dream of buying the Royal Clarence to raise the bedrooms to the same standard as the restaurants.

The company was launched in September 2005 and by the end of the year had two hotels operating under the brand in Exeter and Glasgow.

Abode aims to rival niche luxury boutique operators such as Hotel du Vin and Malmaison with affordable, homely, luxury accommodation coupled with a mix of Caines’ restaurant concepts. They include the fine-dining Michael Caines Restaurants and Champagne Bars, the informal MC Café Bars, Michael Caines Taverns, the funky Vibe Bars, and the gourmet takeaway MC Boutiques.

Caines and Brownsword plan to have between 15 and 20 city or town centre hotels under their belt within the next 10 years.

The Abode Canterbury opened in late 2006 and will be joined in 2007 by a fourth property in Manchester (the former Rossetti hotel that Abode acquired from Alias hotels in April 2006). A new-build Abode in Chester will follow in 2008.

Edinburgh, Newcastle, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Bath and London are all on the Caines and Brownsword wish-list.

Michael Caines – Further information

Michael Caines official websites

Abode Hotels official website

Michael Caines profile on Wikipedia

Read more about the CatererSearch 100, the list of the most influential people here


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