Who Is Michael Caines? 9 Facts About One Of Britain's Most Popular Chefs

You may know Hollywood actor Michael Caine, who stars as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's tireless butler in Christopher Nolan's Batman filmography. You may not, however, know Michael Caines. Perhaps you missed him on TV shows like "The Great British Menu," "Master Chef," or "Saturday Kitchen." Michael Caines (with an s) is an English Michelin-starred chef. The BBC has called him "one of the most talented chefs of his generation."

Born in England and adopted at six weeks old, Caines had a challenging start in life and some serious bumps along the way. But he never let it stall him. The father of four now owns several restaurants and a country house manor in Devon, which earned a Michelin star six months after opening. Caines is an ambitious chef who has continued to work hard for his success over the past three decades of his career (he was out the gates and into cheffing school at 17). Here are nine facts about one of the savants of haute cuisine.

1. He was adopted

At six weeks old, Michael Caines was adopted. His birth mom was from England and his dad from the West Indies. "In those days, unfortunately, being in a mixed-race family was not deemed socially acceptable and therefore my mother was told that unless she gave up her child and had it adopted that she would not be accepted within the family," Caines shared in an interview with DevonLive. "My mother looked after me for six weeks until they found a suitable family. In that time you can only imagine what my mother would have gone through. Then one day she was told to go out for a walk and she did, and when she came back I had been adopted."

Caines was adopted by Pat and Peter Caines, and he speaks highly of his childhood and upbringing with his adoptive family. The celebrity chef is the youngest of six children. He has two brothers and three sisters (one of his brothers is adopted, too). Today, because of his experience, Caines is an advocate for adoption. "I was adopted into a loving family ... I grew up in a unit of love and acceptance of who I was, and feeling absolutely no different."

2. His right arm was amputated after a tragic accident

Michael Caines was 25 years old. He'd just returned from apprenticing with some of the best chefs in France and had landed a career opportunity of a lifetime: to be the head chef of a luxury country house and Michelin-star restaurant in Devon. He had been at Gidleigh Park for two months. He never took a break between his grueling French training and accepting the position in England. Caines had intended to, but he didn't want to turn down the opportunity. He jumped at it but was burnt out. The car accident happened when he was driving back from his niece's christening. "I fell asleep at the wheel. I woke up on impact and I realized instantly what had happened. I remember it very graphically. It was a nightmare ... you're hanging upside down in a car and you see a hand, lying there, and you look over and you see your arm's gone," Caines told The Irish Times.

Initially, he wanted to give up, but Caines's dad gave him an easel and encouraged him to try painting with his left hand. For the right-handed chef who thought his career was over, it opened him to the possibility. "I really enjoyed art as a kid and I realized that I just had to learn how to use my left hand," he says. Two weeks later, he returned to Gidleigh Park part-time; a month later, full-time. His rehabilitation happened in that kitchen.

3. He apprenticed under some of the world's most accomplished chefs

In an interview with the BBC, Michael Caines pays homage to the French chefs who raised him. The celebrated English chef did well at cooking school and worked hard, but when he met Raymond Blanc at a cooking demonstration, the young chef knew where he wanted to be. Blanc was the head chef at Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons. Caines applied to be a commis chef at the country house restaurant and Blanc was impressed by him. "I could see this young man had something more, and I loved his approach," Blanc told the BBC. "He was a quiet young man, and I liked that because I am not a quiet Frenchman." Caines secured the commis job with Blanc by cooking him fish in a simple tomato basil sauce.

After working in Blanc's kitchen in Oxfordshire from the late '80s to early '90s, Blanc placed him at La Côte d'Or with Bernard Lousieau in Burgundy, France. His restaurant had just earned three Michelin stars. "What I learned with Loiseau was the importance of regionality in food ... and he got that on his plates," he told the BBC. After Lousieau, Caines knew he wanted to work with the best chef in Paris, who at the time was Joël Robuchon. "It was the SAS of kitchens," Caines explained. "It's Robuchon, he's hardcore, he is old school ... but the generals who worked under him were even harder."

4. Michael Caines is a family man

Michael Caines and his partner Pippa Whiteley are private about their family life. Together they have three daughters and a son. Despite their "privacy," Caines does occasionally post a photo of the couple together on Instagram. In one such post, he shared three bright pictures, two of him and Whiteley together, and one of Whiteley with their youngest daughter. He captioned the post: "Blessed with love #noreasonjustlove". The duo work together at Lympstone Manor, where Whiteley is the Group Sales, Revenue, and Marketing Manager.

In 2021, Caines also shared pictures of their youngest child soon after she was born. On Instagram, he said: "@pippa_sarah we go hand in hand into the future. Isabeau Joy Whiteley Caines, born 22nd July (5 weeks early)." In an interview with Billionaire, readers got a glimpse behind the veil. When asked what his morning routine was, Caines said he normally got woken by the baby (who was 16 months old at the time). He'd make himself a coffee and spend time with the children before heading to work at 8:45 a.m. When he has time, Caines also likes to get into nature with his partner and their kids, walking along the coastline or visiting wildlife areas. "It's a nice way to get out and about and have a chat," he shared in an interview with Coast Magazine.

5. He almost didn't become a chef

It's a common career story, a moment ... significant or insignificant that changes the trajectory of a person's life. Michael Caines was headed for military school when he heard his friend Bruno Asante say he was going to get work experience in a kitchen and become a chef. "It was like a light bulb going off," he shared in an interview with the BBC. Caines hadn't realized that becoming a professional chef was a career option. He'd never considered it before. Because he was headed for the army, he thought maybe he could become an army chef. Fortunately, his friend convinced him they'd have more fun at cooking school.

Caines enrolled at Exeter College for two years. In 1987, at age 18, he graduated as student of the year. He finished at Exeter College on Friday and was in London looking for work on Saturday. His first job was at the Grosvenor House, a five-star hotel. He worked in the banqueting kitchen, where they'd prepare 200 to 2000 covers a day. "It's very monotonous work but I applied myself," he told the BBC. After six months he got a position as a commis chef at its Michelin-star restaurant. It was here that Caines realized he wanted to become a Michelin-star chef.

6. He transformed a crumbling country house into a hotel and Michelin-starred establishment

Caines is a hardworking chef, he went straight from college to a job in London, from London to his grueling French apprenticeships, and then back to England to Gidleigh Park, where he was at the helm as head chef for 19 years. At Gidleigh Park he was recognized with his first Michelin star and earned the restaurant its second. By that time, Caines was in the prime of his career, and ready for more. He wanted a stake in the business, made an offer to Gidleigh Park, was rejected, and decided he would go it alone. He wanted to own his property, like his mentor, Raymond Blanc.

So he did, and he has. Introducing Lympstone Manor, a 21-bedroom country house hotel and restaurant. The historical building is set on 28 acres of Devon countryside, has a private vineyard, and earned its first Michelin star only six months after opening. "When I found Courtlands Mansion, as it was called, instantly I could see its potential, but it was very run down and needed some TLC," Caines shared in an interview with The Irish Times. It was an 18-month restoration project. "All of what you see now is a product of my own determination and imagination."

7. He's a petrolhead

All that hard work and no play? It appears not for one of Britain's most acclaimed chefs. The fun news is that Michael Caines is into cars, sports cars. Billionaire Magazine asked Caines if his house was on fire, aside from family, what he would save, and he said the keys to his car. At the time of the interview, in 2023, Caines was driving a lime green McLaren 600LT Spider. "I'm a bit of a petrolhead," he confessed in the interview.

Before the McClaren, Caines was a dedicated Porsche man. In his youth, he and some mates drove his Porsche 911 Turbo to France to watch rugby. "We were all in decent cars on a run to Paris, but we got caught on the way down there. The police pulled us over, told us they were watching us," he told GQ. As a child, he had a poster of a 911 Turbo on his wall. (Dreams do come true!) Caines's first Porsche was a Boxter, then he moved on to a Boxster S, a few different 911s, and finally the high-performance Porsche GT3. We're not sure how many vehicles the motorhead owns in addition to his McLaren, but according to his Instagram, he has a few beauties in the garage.

8. His passion for food comes from his mum

Moms don't get enough credit. But celebrity chef and hotelier Michael Caines hasn't shied away from honoring his mom as his first inspiration. Pat Caines adopted baby Michael when he was just six weeks old. "I had a wonderful family life growing up. We didn't want for anything but we didn't have much," Caines told the BBC.

"One of the things we did do was enjoy cooking food at home, having our kitchen garden, making jams. That's where my love for food started, in the kitchen with my mother and growing and cultivating crops with my father in the wonderful Victorian garden." Caines didn't know he was going to become a chef. In 2006 he was recognized as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his excellent contribution in his work as a chef. Caines says his mom taught him the value of baking and eating a meal together as a family. The cake he remembers best from his childhood is a fruit cake he and his mom used to make. "I still love fruit cake!" he told Devon Life.

9. He's a champion for local produce

The Michelin-starred chef supports many charities. Just visit the foundations and charities page on his website. Or Lympstone Manor socials, where he's often handing over a check for a good cause. Something he advocates for, and was inspired by his apprenticeship with Bernard Lousieau, is championing local produce.

What he learned from Lousieau in Burgundy, France, was putting the region on the plate — celebrating the produce the region has to offer. Small-scale farming has diminished greatly over the decades with the advent of supermarkets, and its need for mass food production. Born and raised in Devon and having returned there to run his own estate, Caines is passionate about reviving local farming and sourcing the best products from ... well, his neighbors! "Devon has the largest amount of food producers," he told Food and Travel, "more than any other county." Caines is so outspoken about supporting local farmers that in 2024 he was made the Devon County Show president. Through his restaurant at Lympstone Manor Caines is dedicated to showcasing the farming and food of Devon.