Michelin-starred celebrity chef Michael Caines MBE has officially opened Somerset Larder’s new central production kitchen in Bridgwater.
The award-winning restaurateur was also on hand to judge the Larder’s young apprentices in a “Masterchef” style cooking competition.
Having toured the new state-of-the-art kitchens, which supply meals and ‘food to go’ to all the catering outlets at Hinkley Point and other local businesses, Mr Caines then tucked into a variety of offerings from five trainee cooks.
Kinga Wachowska prepared fresh Scottish salmon with beetroot aioli and watercress salad. Mr Caines was very taken with the aioli which he said had some “great flavours”.
He declared Liam Hewitt’s Szechan chicken “delicious” and Estaven Colangelo’s Brazillian fish stew was “very tasty”. He also loved Ben Knight’s rolled pork loin with a sage and apricot stuffing, which he said was “a really great effort”.
Announcing David Dickinson’s apple pear and almond tart as the overall winner Mr Caines said: “This was the stand out dish, both technically and taste-wise; the tart was exceptional he really nailed it. The pastry was excellent and he showed a huge amount of skill making it.”
David said: “I was so pleased he liked it, he is a great hero of mine so it was an honour to meet him. He seems really down to earth and genuinely interested in what we are doing here. He also gave me some great tips to improve the dish, such as to ‘sous vide’ rather than bake the apples, using a water bath. I thought that was a great idea.”
All the meals featured, with Michael’s suggestions as to how to refine them, will be served at Hinkley Point C – billed as “inspired by Michael Caines MBE”.
The chef, who owns and runs Lympstone Manor in Devon along with numerous other award-winning establishments, has said he would like to see the food industry working together more to provide good apprenticeships like the ones at Somerset Larder.
He said: “They all did really well and I was very impressed, it was a great effort by each of the young chefs. I was also interested to see the new kitchens, the equipment they have is the best in the industry and with good staff behind them too that’s all you need to succeed.
“I am very happy to work with Somerset Larder in the future, not just to help promote the region’s food, but also to encourage more young people into catering. There isn’t always a direct career path in this business and it’s easy to lose their interest, so initiatives like this are exactly what’s needed to show the world what an exciting job this can be.”
The Managing Director of Somerset Larder, Steve Braithwaite, said: “We were delighted to have Michael Caines officially open our kitchens here, he really took a genuine interest in what we are hoping to achieve by promoting the west country as a centre of excellence for the food industry. I am really looking forward to working with him on other projects in the future. It’s great for our young chefs to be exposed the expertise of someone of his calibre.”