Michelin Guide status provides much-needed morale boost during torrid times

Lympstone Manor.

Lympstone Manor. - Credit: Archant

Michael Caines on East Devon and beyond

Michael Caines

Michael Caines - Credit: Mark Ashee

Amid the doom and gloom of the past 12 months there was a twinkling star for the staff at Lympstone Manor in January.

We were delighted to be told we had retained our Michelin Guide status despite the challenges the team have faced.

It’s a credit to them that we retained our one-star and a much-needed morale boost after the torrid times we have been through.

I’d also like to congratulate the other restaurants and chefs who have won, or maintained stars, including two women who are leading the way at the moment, Claire Smyth at Core and Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, both in London.

These ladies are flying the flag in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry and I applaud their impressive three stars apiece.

However, it doesn’t feel like a reason for huge celebrations as, at the same time, restaurants will have lost stars because they have been unable to operate as normal during the pandemic.

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That will be a bitter pill to swallow.

I am often asked if we know when an inspector is in the restaurant and the honest answer is... not at all.

And, frankly, it doesn’t matter. We should be the best for everyone, all the time and that’s what really motivates us.

Although it’s nice to receive recognition for what we do, I don’t like to place too much emphasis on awards.

The most important goal for our business is to delight our customers through great service, exceptional cuisine and the highest possible standards.

It’s imperative that we fashion our business with our clientele in mind and not a shiny gong because shiny gongs don’t pay the bills!

It’s not easy being judged on what you do every year, and waiting for the announcement is like waiting for an exam result, but it’s part of what drives us to constantly develop and improve our offering.

Finally, in normal circumstances we would be gearing up to celebrate our fourth anniversary in April.

The first lockdown happened just a few days before our third birthday and it looks like we may still be closed again 12 months later.

However, I remain optimistic that we will come out the other end of this with a new perspective on life and a sense of gratitude for the simple pleasures we all took for granted.

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