Patron of Lympstone Manor in Exmouth, the Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines MBE is Devonian to the core, running his restaurant business and enjoying family life against the stunning scenery of the South Devon coast
Interview CAROLINE WHEATER
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of going to Budleigh Salterton in South Devon with my family. The beach (pictured) is pebbly and very steeply shelving. I would swim and sometimes go out in a dingy, and snorkel where the River Otter joins the sea. When I was older, and at catering college in Exeter, my friends and I would have beach parties at Dawlish Warren and Sandy Bay Beach in Exmouth, on either side of the Exe Estuary. I was a good swimmer and did a bit of lifeguarding in the summer, kite-surfing and wakeboarding too.
We lived in Exeter, but my parents were from Plymouth so we’d often go on day trips to Plymouth Hoe, visiting Plymouth Breakwater and the fort at the entrance to Plymouth Sound – such an important element in the history of maritime Britain. My grandparents lived at Seaton, which, with its little harbour area, is really charming.
These days I often walk along the Teignmouth seafront with my own children, Joseph, Hope and India, and my partner, Pippa. We go to Dawlish Warren, too, to the wildlife area, which is a hive of bird activity, including kingfishers, egrets and migratory birds, depending on the season. It’s a nice way to get out and about and have a chat.
I love the whole of Devon, but the landscape is softer on the south coast and so varied. I always like seeing the land from the sea, at eye level, and there are many coves around the coast, some only accessible by boat. The estuaries are all so different to look at: the Exe Estuary is very wide compared to the narrow estuaries of the Dart and the Tamar. Lyme Bay itself is filled with seafood and sustainably caught scallops, mussels, clams, lobsters, John Dory, turbot and brill – landed at Brixham fish market – all feature on my menus, depending on the season.
In winter, the landscape is dramatic, in summer, it’s a lot calmer, but I always feel energised by the wonderful views. Sometimes, when you live here, you take for granted how much of the Devon coastline remains unspoiled.
Sample Michael’s food at Lympstone Manor, The Cove at Maenporth in Cornwall, and his much-anticipated new restaurant in Exmouth. Go to michaelcaines.com for more details and to book a table. He is also fronting a new website about his home county, called Destination Devon – find it at destination-devon.co.uk.