Why this week? Until the end of February, Smith members can stay Friday and Saturday and then stick around for Sunday night free – without paying a penny. Alain Ducasse’s Adour restaurant has also been in the spotlight recently, winning no less than three awards, which named it one of the top five places to eat in Washington DC, and voted its baba pudding the best in town.
Here at Smith HQ, when we’re not living, breathing and loving boutique hotels, we’re drooling over delectable dinners in London, long lunches in Languedoc, superior coffee in the capital and wine-tasting events – even wedding cakes made of cheese. (We take our ‘tastemaker’ title quite seriously, you see.) Typing is mainly practised one-handed, to enable a non-stop snack stream to pass unhindered into our greedy (but still oh-so-selective) bellies.
In short, we’ve decided to put more foodie posts on the blog menu, and resurrect our series of interviews with the food world’s Michelin-starred great and good (see our previous interviews with the awesome Alain Ducasse and mighty Michael Caines).
Since we’ve been knocking around in Edinburgh recently to update you on this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we thought we’d make our first port of call 21212, to check up on maverick chef Paul Kitching (above right).
Alain Ducasse – a longtime leading light on the culinary scene – hardly needs an introduction. Here, we talk to the mighty Michelin-starred chef behind projects as varied as Le Louis XV in Monaco and, recently, a quartet of French country inns, including Smith stays Domaine des Andéols in Provence and L’Andana in Tuscany. Alain also oversees the restaurant at the swish St Regis Washington DC.
Chef Michael Caines – not to be confused with the chirpy, one-dimensional cockney actor – has long been a Mr & Mrs Smith favourite. After learning his trade in the kitchens of such greats as Raymond Blanc, Bernard Loiseau and Joël Robuchon, Michael became head chef at Gidleigh Park in Devon, where he garnered two Michelin stars for his wonderful Modern European cuisine. He now heads up the Michael Caines Restaurants group – which oversees an enviable portfolio of restaurants, cafés and bars – and is co-owner of ABode Hotels, which offers stylish stays in five UK cities. He’s a busy man alright, which is why we were so delighted when he found a few moments to share his thoughts on all things culinary with us…
When did you first realise you wanted to be a chef?
I’ve always been around food, but I didn’t feel the calling till I was about 16. My dad had a large garden and my mum was always cooking, and I loved helping out in the kitchen – but I had no idea that you could be a chef for a career. Back then, you didn’t have celebrity chefs on TV, so there wasn’t anyone to inspire you. It was only when a friend of mine went off to do work experience in a restaurant kitchen that I started thinking ‘hang on…’