Chef Spotlight

Chef Spotlight: Meet Paul Carne, award winning Level 2 Chef Tutor for the Michael Caines Academy

Posted by
@ Thirty-Four
Posted on
30 Apr 2024

This month we’re introducing you to Paul Carne, the Curriculum Area Manager for Apprentices, Adults and Employer Engagement and a Level 2 Tutor for the Michael Caines Academy at Exeter College.

Let’s meet Paul…

I’ve been a chef since I left school, I started in an apprenticeship then came to Exeter College to do my third year. Then I’ve been out in industry – worked at Woodbury Park and then before I came here, I was the Head Chef at the Puffing Billy in Exton.

What is it about teaching that you love?

I started by coming in and doing a demonstration for the Michael Caines Academy and it wasn’t something I had thought of going into, but I really enjoyed my demo. I knew a teacher here and he encouraged me to give it a go, so I did. I started part time and that was now nearly 8 years ago. I really enjoy it, love seeing the students’ progress and becoming industry ready – it’s an incredibly rewarding job.

What prompted you to become a chef?

My love for food really. I’ve always enjoyed working in the kitchen, even if it was just a part time job washing dishes. It was watching chefs cook that made me think, yeh I want to do that. I’ve never really done anything else.

What has been your greatest achievement/proudest moment in your career?

I think getting my first Head Chef role. I’d set a target of where I wanted to be; having my own kitchen and team. And it wasn’t just getting that but having that team around me worked really well. It was so rewarding. I think that was my proudest moment because it was a lot of hard work to get there. While I’ve been at College, it would have to be getting that recent recognition from City & Guilds and working within a fantastic hospitality team.

What makes Devon such a great place to work as a chef?  

The amazing local food we can get. The suppliers – farmers, growers, producers – the food scene in Devon is fantastic. There’s just such a range with new things popping up all the time. As a chef, to have new ingredients to play with is always fun.

Where would you go to dine out on a night off?

That is tricky. I’ll go for top 3.

I’m very lucky with my job, I get to go to Lympstone Manor quite a bit and that’s always a real treat.

Also, I still work occasionally in industry, and I love really good pub food. So, places like Jack in the Green are really good but also The Holt in Honiton is a favourite of mine. I love it there; it’s got a great feel to it.

Best Sunday Lunch, cor’ that’s tricky. I used to work at The Five Bells in Clyst Hydon and used to do their Sunday lunch and I think they were amazing, even if I do say so myself. But most recently I went to The Blue Ball (Sandygate) and had a great Sunday lunch.

Is there anywhere that you think is a bit of an unknown gem?

The Lost Kitchen in Tiverton, I absolutely love the feel there. I love what they do with the food and the flavours. I think that is my go-to place that I would send people to.

What is your favourite Devon ingredient/product to use in your dishes? And why?

I think anyone who knows me would say clotted cream is a staple ingredient in my diet. We’re lucky enough to use a recipe where you put clotted cream in brioche. It’s from Chris Eden at Gidleigh Park, it’s his recipe. It is a game changer. That is a brilliant way to use it, but also in mousses and ice creams, you get that lovely creamy flavour coming through, you can’t beat it really.

(Are you a cream first or jam first kind of guy?)

Do you know what, I’m not that fussy. Either way, but quite often I will put jam on top. I’ve got relative in Cornwall so I can get away with either.

What is it about the Michael Caines Academy that makes it so special?

I think the reputation that it has is amazing, students flock in from all over Devon to come and interview for it. Also, the weekly enrichment going out to suppliers and incredible venues in the south west. That’s an amazing part of the job – going to see the produce and then going to see it being cooked within the finest places in the county.

The restaurant (@thirty-four) has won a few awards recently – what do you think it is about the restaurant that brings people back again and again?

I think a few of us have said as lecturers, that being a lecturer within hospitality at Exeter College makes you a better chef. You’re constantly looking into new things, seeing what industry are doing and trying to replicate that so our students are industry ready and making it like it would be in the real world.

We have got really high standards, so on lunch and dinners we are cooking at a really high level. I think for the cost we charge and the way the front of house team makes it such a welcoming environment to be in – it is the whole package as a restaurant and being in the city centre as well really helps.

Anything exciting coming up?

We are having new state-of-the-art kitchens put in and a new extension to the restaurant, a conservatory, which will provide us with loads of new exciting opportunities to showcase what we do.

We also have The Lost Kitchen coming in for a takeover in June which will be a great night.

Outstanding Achievement Award

Paul hasn’t even mentioned a recent big personal win! He was recently nominated for a prestigious City and Guilds Award by his peers and was ultimately awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award.

The City and Guilds Professional Recognition Awards have been developed for those at the highest professional levels within their chosen careers. The awards are NQF (National Qualifications Framework) accredited qualifications which enable candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills within any sector or role.

As a result of winning the City and Guilds Award and because judges were so impressed with his nomination, Paul was also awarded the Cherry Grainger Prize from the Worshipful Company of Cooks, one of only two chefs in the whole country.

Presented by the Livery Companies Skills Council and The City and Guilds of London Institute, Paul Carne was invited to the historic Mansion House in London.

To book a table at @thirty-four visit CLICK HERE.

Read more about the City & Guilds award HERE.


Make Paul’s recipe for Chocolate and Pecan Tart

Line 1 x large pastry case with sweet pastry.

You will need:

125g butter
90g caster sugar
1 egg
250g plain four
Drop of vanilla essence

  1. Cream butter and sugar together, add vanilla.
  2. Slowly add beaten egg.
  3. Sift in flour and bring together.

For the chocolate and pecan filling, you will need:

114g butter
340g soft dark brown sugar
6 eggs
450g pecans
280g golden syrup
2 tbsp rum
4 tbsp cocoa powder

  1. Cream together butter and sugar
  2. Beat in eggs slowly
  3. Beat in golden syrup
  4. Add rum and cocoa powder
  5. Fold in pecans
  6. Blind bake tart case
  7. Fill tart case with pecan filling bake at 180c for 15-20mins.
  8. Leave to cool to room temperature before putting in fridge.
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