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December 7, 2012

Food Friday: Michael Caines’s Diary

By Spear's

Turning on the Christmas lights, endless Christmas dinners, and the occasional TV shoot, December is a busy time of year for two Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines

The 23rd November was the beginning of the Christmas season for me, as that’s when I switched on Exeter’s Christmas Lights in Princesshay. It had been delayed by 24 hours due to the terrible weather in the South West.   

It was a privilege I have never had before and I think I was more excited than the children! I was joined on stage by the Military Wives Choir, who are based in Lympstone Royal Marine Commando Training Centre, and our local talent Adam Isaac, who appeared on the BBC programme, The Voice, this year. It was a very proud moment indeed and my children joined in the festive fun, which made it all the more memorable.

This was meant to be the start of my busiest time of the year however the weather managed to put a stop to that – and almost everything else in the South West!

All trains to and from Exeter were cancelled, leaving me unable to make it on time (I only arrived 24 hours later than planned!) to the Acorn Scholar Awards, which recognise rising stars in hospitality, but that didn’t stop me doing my bit.

I was delighted to get there in time for the awards presentation dinner and to meet the winner, Lewis Gallagher, who I look forward to working with in 2013. Well done Lewis!

The following Tuesday was another exciting day for me, as I met with Random House, who will be publishing my first cookbook in Autumn 2013. This is such an important project to me and I can’t wait to get my first book out on the shelves.  

I’ve recently started my ‘Christmas with Caines’ tour, hosting festive dinners at all the Abode hotels. We started off with Abode Chester where we have a fine dining restaurant on the 5th Floor overlooking Chester, a perfect venue for such a wonderful evening of food and wine.  

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Then onto Abode Manchester, where we had another full restaurant and a great festive evening which was brilliant — thanks to all those who came.

The following day it was off early to Birmingham for the Good Food Show for demos for both the M&S Theatre and Saturday Kitchen, with my good friend James Martin.

The theatre was packed out for my first demo with me arriving just in time despite all the traffic, (well done for that, driver!).  

Welsh Slate were also there with a stand helping to promote my beautiful slateware range, which looked amazing.

On Saturday I took my chance to relax, check out the show and see what everyone else is doing, including Oliver Harvey, who I will be working with on a new range of aprons in a tin – a perfect stocking filler for the budding chef in your life!

I used my time in Birmingham to do a bit of shopping too, and to catch up with James Martin and Chris Evans who had driven up from London after Saturday Kitchen Live and were doing a demonstration at the Good Food Show later on.

Gino D’Acampo finished off the day on Saturday with an amusing and entertaining demonstration including a surprise visit from Peter Andre, who helped him onstage!  My how the ladies loved that, and what a laugh they had onstage.

Sunday is normally my day off but instead I left from Birmingham and headed straight to Darts Farm for Stir Up Sunday with Families for Children, a charity I have been patron of for many years and which is very dear to my heart because I was adopted at the age of 6 weeks.

Our other patron, Caroline Quentin, joined me to make my mother’s Christmas pudding recipe with the adopted children as little helper, mixing up the recipe. They then all made themselves a little pudding to take away with them for Christmas day — a real family event for all to enjoy.

We were also presented with a cheque from Crealy Adventure Park in Cornwall for over £5,000, funds they raised at a fireworks event. It is a welcome boost for the charity after what has been a challenging year for fundraising. 

Monday saw me back in London for a meeting with Harrods on an exciting opportunity for 2013. The next day I was filming for Masterchef before heading off to Bath for another Christmas event at the Bath Priory, before heading back to Gidleigh Park for our Christmas dinner — it’s just non-stop at the moment, but I love every minute of it.
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