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).
Game season is now officially here, so we’ve managed to persuade someone considerably better at cooking than us – chef Michael Caines – to devise a seasonal recipe for you: Roast Partridge with braised chicory, quince puree, toasted walnuts, wild mushrooms and a Gewürztraminer wine sauce. Ok, so it’s a bit involved, but trust us, it’s well worth the effort. You can do a lot of the prep earlier in the afternoon and then just finish off the meat, cook the prepared mushrooms and reheat the other elements when you’re ready to serve up.
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…’