Clancy’s fancy lunch at a Sydney harbourside apartment

Justine Tyerman
Justine Tyerman at La Corniche in Sydney

Justine Tyerman falls in ‘motherly love’ with Clancy Atkinson, the celebrity chef who prepared lunch for her birthday at a harbourside apartment in Sydney…

Preparing exquisite canapés the size of a 10 cent coin so glamorous women in expensive attire can eat without opening their mouths more than 2.5 centimetres was one of chef Clancy Atkinson’s many briefs while working for Gucci.

The Australian celebrity chef worked for Gucci and other luxury brands for six and a half years in the world’s most exotic locations with the world’s most beautiful people… including Elle MacPherson.

It was an insane life-style, working 100-hour weeks, catering for Gucci’s in-store private events and cocktail parties. Creative director Tom Ford was very detailed and precise in his instructions about size and presentation.

I once used black sesame seeds in a canapé and they got stuck in a certain Gucci VIP’s teeth at a cocktail party — that didn’t go down at all well. They’ve been banned ever since!

Moving on four years, Clancy is now the official chef for Luxe Houses, a Sydneybased business founded and owned by young entrepreneur Jessica Kirkpatrick who specialises in renting prestigious private properties in Australia and New Zealand to wealthy and famous clientele.

Luxe Houses CEO Jessica Kirkpatrick at La Corniche
Luxe Houses CEO/owner Jessica Kirkpatrick at La Corniche

Clancy’s Luxe Houses work involves preparing dinners and cocktail parties for celebrity, private and business events.

I offer an exclusive, personalised service, working with the client from start to finish, from menu design right through to the washing of the very last dish,

he says.

Chef Clancy arrives at La Corniche to prepare lunch
Chef Clancy arrives at La Corniche to prepare lunch

Luxe Houses is a premium brand and they hold the keys to the best properties in Australia and New Zealand. Trust is very important to our clients. They don’t want to brief me on an important event and then have someone else do the cooking. I handle the whole process and have a high level of respect for the lovely houses I work in.

I feel privileged to be a part of Luxe Houses. Jessica Kirkpatrick (founder and CEO) and her team are amazing and support many charities like the Cancer Council Australia. In fact, one of our Luxe Houses’ celebrity clients, Ronan Keating recently hosted the Emeralds and Ivy Ball that raised $440,000 for CCA. Luxe Houses was proudly one of the sponsors offering a generous prize which raised $11,000.

Clancy was private chef for actor Gerard Butler at a Luxe Houses mansion for three months earlier this year while he was filming Gods of Egypt at Sydney’s Fox Studios.

Gerard is a really nice guy. He was on the set from 6am until midnight and I had to help him maintain his physique. He used to eat a high protein diet of three steaks and 12 eggs a day … and lots of coconut water.

It was my job to keep him happy. There was one coffee product I searched all over Sydney for I but could not find anywhere so we finally got it in from LA.

Clancy loves Italian and Japanese food and only eats organic products. He says they taste cleaner and better. But he cooks to order and does not impose his ideas on his clients.

Chef Clancy with his goat cheese, braised leek and mint pie with handmade olive oil pastry
Chef Clancy with his goat cheese, braised leek and mint pie with handmade olive oil pastry

“I focus entirely on what the client wants.” He says, food knowledge has changed over time and people are not as crazy about farout ingredients as they used to be. “My clients want honest, clean food these days.”

Clancy’s next assignment is at Palm Beach where he has been hired as private chef for the next three weeks by a family from London who are staying at a Luxe Houses beachfront mansion near “Summer Bay” where Home and Away is filmed.

So when Jessica suggested that Clancy could cook a birthday lunch for me “at home” as part of the concierge services offered at La Corniche, I had to pinch myself … and her … to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I accepted the offer … quite fast.

Clancy is a real gem, and does not fit the modern image of a celebrity chef
— he’s sweet-natured, smiley, affable, unpretentious, amusing and did not use the ‘F’ word the whole time he was preparing and serving our lunch.

Justine with chef Clancy (right) and his partner Aldo
Yours truly with chef Clancy (right) and his partner Aldo

He has a winning way with people, loves the interaction with his clients and is often invited to eat with them. He said while catering a recent wedding, the bride’s mother started calling him her son. I can see why. After half an hour in his company, I had also fallen in motherly love with him. Just what exactly did he put in that lemonade … or was it the brownie?

Clancy prepares the homemade lemonade with fresh mint and cucumber slices
Clancy prepares the homemade lemonade with fresh mint and cucumber slices

The menu…

• Goat cheese, braised leek and mint pie with handmade olive oil pastry
• Salad of shaved cauliflower, fennel, green apple and hazelnuts with sweet and sour honey dressing
• Chargrilled asparagus with parmesan, pickled red grapes, baby cos and pickling juices
• Banana gelato popsicle dipped in Belgian chocolate
• White chocolate, cranberry and quinoa cookies
• Fresh blueberry and bitter chocolate brownie
• Homemade lemonade with fresh mint and cucumber slices

Salad of shaved cauliflower, fennel, green apple and hazelnuts with sweet and sour honey dressing

Salad of shaved cauliflower, fennel, green apple and hazelnuts with sweet and sour honey dressing
Salad of shaved cauliflower, fennel, green apple and hazelnuts with sweet and sour honey dressing

Ingredients (serves 6)
FOR SALAD:
1 small cauliflower, finely shaved Juice of 1 lemon
1 fennel, finely shaved
1 green apple, cut julienne
¼ cup picked and washed mint leaves
¼ cup picked and washed Italian parsley leaves
2 cups picked and washed rocket leaves
2 eschallots, finely sliced
100g pecorino cheese, shaved
50g hazelnuts, lightly roasted and crushed Sea salt and pepper

Method
1. Add all ingredients except for pecorino to a mixing bowl. Dress salad with enough dressing to moisten and gently toss together.
2. Place salad on a serving plate and garnish with shaved pecorino.

FOR SWEET AND SOUR HONEY DRESSING:
100ml white wine vinegar
100g caster sugar
4 tablespoons of honey

1. In a saucepan bring white wine vinegar and sugar to a simmer and heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Next add honey and stir.
3. Allow to cool then refrigerate until ready to use.

Fresh blueberry and dark chocolate brownie

White chocolate, cranberry and quinoa cookies and fresh blueberry and bitter chocolate brownies
White chocolate, cranberry and quinoa cookies and fresh blueberry and bitter chocolate brownies

Ingredients (serves 8)
350g (1½ cups) caster sugar
80g (⅔ cup) cocoa powder
60g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g fresh blueberries
200g dark chocolate roughly chopped

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Line a 22cm square baking tin with baking paper. Stir together the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder in a bowl.
2. Mix in the eggs, butter and vanilla until combined, and then mix in the chocolate.
3. Pour mixture into the tin and place blueberries on top.
4. Bake brownie for 40 minutes. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.
5. Cut into squares to serve.

Heady stuff for a Gizzy girl …

I can still taste those fabulous plump pickled grapes that were brined for three days and bursting with flavour.

It’s fascinating how one can rationalise an experience if it’s a one-off or a special occasion. I’m usually a small eater at lunchtime but I somehow managed to find perfectly valid reasons to consume two pieces of the delicious pie, several large helpings of the salad and asparagus, a whole blueberry brownie and a cookie followed by a chocolate-coated popsicle! Not to mention the fabulous lemonade.

The banana gelato popsicle dipped in Belgian chocolate
The banana gelato popsicle dipped in Belgian chocolate

Among my excuses were: “This will never happen again … I’m not wasting a crumb of this fabulous food because of the effort and care put into it … and we can’t take any of it back to New Zealand.”

We enjoyed it so much, we set the table precisely as Aldo had done for us at lunchtime, and did it all again for dinner with the dazzling lights of Luna Park, the bridge and opera house as the backdrop.

Aldo sets the table for lunch with great attention to detail
Aldo sets the table for lunch with great attention to detail

A few days after Clancy prepared and served our delicious lunch, La Corniche became the venue for Ronan Keating’s birthday soirée for his girlfriend.

So as we vacated La Corniche, the singer and his entourage moved in. Heady stuff for a Gizzy girl! Clancy served a selection of handmade bespoke canapés, followed by the same cauliflower salad we had, veal with potato dauphinoise and spring greens, finishing with a lemon and green apple sorbet and petit fours.

Clancy said the evening was a fantastic success and Ronan loved the food.

Ronan Keating, his girlfriend and chef Clancy Atkinson
Ronan Keating, his girlfriend Storm Uechtritz and chef Clancy Atkinson

Justine Tyerman stayed at Luxe Houses’ La Corniche. Here’s her review.

La Corniche.The main balcony and outside entertainment area at La Corniche
The main balcony at La Corniche

Take a tour of www.luxehouses.com.au to inspect 200 spectacular properties on offer in Australia and New Zealand.