Michael Caines: Black Michelin-Starred Chef


Michael Caines, one of the most famous Black British Chef, was born into a family of a white English mother and a Black Dominican father. Weeks after Caines was born, he was adopted by a white couple because his biological mother’s parents were very against mixed-race marriage.

The family that Caines grew up was large and loving. Caines says it wasn’t easy growing up in a predominantly white society; however, Caines knew that “It was their problem, not mine.” It was from his parents that Caines started to love cooking. He was encouraged to study catering at Exeter College, where he gained vocational qualifications. Eventually, Caines seek out to his birth family, learning that his biological father was an amazing cook, which further motivated him to pursue his passion for cooking.

Caines does not talk like to talk about race although he is one of the only two black chefs in the UK that is awarded with Michelin star. However, the rise of the far right across the world and the notable lack of diversity in the catering industry led him to feel he has to speak up. “We’re at this point where all of a sudden we’re becoming very tribal again, we’re becoming very anti-immigration and very scared of people’s value in terms of where they’re culturally from,” he says,” I don’t talk about my colour. I see myself there on merit. But, now I’m happy to talk about it. There’s a point to make about what that means.”

Caines is keen to point out that race is just one of the many barriers in the catering industry. As well as a lack of diversity, there is a notable absence of female chefs in the Michelin guide and top kitchens across the nation.

Marvin Kwang