Patrons of Exeter College

In acknowledgement of the exceptional achievements of alumni and other distinguished friends of the College and to allow the organisation to benefit from the accumulated knowledge and experience of those designated, Exeter College invites exceptional individuals to become members of the prestigious Patrons of the College. Membership of the Patrons of the College is the highest honour that the College can bestow on its alumni and friends.

We are delighted to celebrate the conferment as the founding Patron of Exeter College to Michael Caines MBE.

Michael Caines MBE

Michael Caines is one of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs. At Gidleigh Park, where he was at the helm for 21 years, he earned and held two Michelin stars serving distinctive modern European cuisine utilising the finest local and regional produce and ingredients. Amongst numerous other accolades, Michael has cooked in 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, was awarded AA Chef’s Chef of the Year in 2007, and received an MBE in 2006 for services to the hospitality industry. He now helms Lympstone Manor, his own country house hotel, restaurant and vineyard in a Grade II listed Georgian mansion overlooking the Exe estuary.

Michael was born in Exeter in 1969 and adopted into a large and loving family. He gained his passion for food from his mother who he used to enjoy helping in the kitchen. He attended Exeter Catering College where his precocious talent was already evident, earning him the accolade ‘Student of the Year’ in 1987. He subsequently spent a year and a half at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane in London, before embarking on three influential years under his mentor Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. From here he moved to France for a further formative period of training, honing his profession under the guidance of such superstars chefs as the late Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu and Joël Robuchon in Paris.

Michael Caines First Patron of Exeter College
Michael Caines – First Patron of Exeter College

Michael returned to Britain in 1994 to take up the position of Head Chef at Gidleigh Park. Gidleigh’s restaurant was already rated amongst the most prestigious in the country so the position represented a massive challenge and opportunity for a young and ambitious chef. Yet, only two months into the job, Michael suffered a terrible car accident in which he lost his right arm.

Remarkably, he was back in the kitchen part time within two weeks, and full-time after just four. With the support of then owners Paul and Kay Henderson and an unwavering belief in his own ability to overcome obstacles, he returned to the kitchens of Gidleigh Park more focused and determined than ever to pursue his dream of reaching the top of his profession.

Michael’s 21 year tenure at the helm of the Gidleigh Park kitchens came to the end in January 2016. Michael currently oversees Michael Caines restaurants in North Devon (The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange); Palé Hall, north Wales; and Abu Dhabi (Pearls by Michael Caines). He is also a partner and ambassador for Williams Racing, overseeing the catering at Formula One races throughout the world. Lympstone Manor is the realisation of Michael’s dream location for country house hospitality in the 21st century.