In preparation for the Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event one of my tasks was to interview the local Chef I am matched with. So, in the cool comfort of Options Bar at Brookstreet Hotel I was lucky enough to have a sit down with Executive Chef Clifford Lyness for one precious hour. Yes, you heard me one hour.
First impressions, warmth and ease. He settled into answering questions easily and talking about food, the restaurant business and his family with him was a pleasure.
So here it is, and to the folks who had questions I took with me, he happily answered some of those too!
Are you looking forward to the Canadian Celebrity Chef’s Event this coming Monday?
Yes, excited about it, really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fabulous event and we are hoping it is something we can continue and grow in the future.
Have you worked with your teammate Chef Ray Bear (MIX, Halifax) before?
No I haven’t worked with him, we have been communicating, I have heard great things, it’s going to be great.
The Menu from Team Lyness/Bear
Poached Atlantic lobster | Bridge sparkling wine beurre blanc
Le Coprin mushrooms | sweetbreads with candied fennel
corn flan, water cress sprouts | black olive purée
I know that you are a proponent of Slow Food, can you expand a bit on that?
I do believe in Slow Food, sourcing as local as possible to the best of my ability. Preserving traditional and local cuisine is where we have been headed for a while.
What are some of the newer food trends that you are particularly interested in?
Organic. Yes, organic in conjunction with Slow Food. I also like to cure and smoke.
What are some food trends that don’t appeal to you, or that you don’t think are going to stick around?
Trends come and go, but parts of them will stick around. There are pieces of some trends that are really good.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My Grandfather. His Mother taught him to cook. She cooked for one of the British Royal families. He had a real passion for food and cooking and I used to pull a chair right up and work with him. He passed away just as I started my career.
My favourite meal he used to make was pork roast and crackling and Yorkshire pudding. I have the actual pan he made his pudding in.
How has your approach to cooking evolved over the years?
I have found a way to balance what I love with what people want. It’s balance after all these years and being comfortable doing what you want.
A pantry item you can’t live without…
3 herbs and/or spices everyone should have in the cupboard…
Good salt (Maldon), thyme, juniper berries
Good pan or good stove…
Good pan. As long as I have a good pan I can cook on anything. An old cast iron is good, really old.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Processed food, over-processed food.
Your favourite comfort food/guilty pleasure food?
Braised duck leg on ravioli topped with a fried egg (crispy around the edges) and some goat cheese.
What does your typical Sunday look like?
Sunday is busy, it’s my only day off. I shop. I get up early and I go grocery shopping for my family. Where do you shop? I buy my produce at Farm Boy. I like Farm Boy. Yeah Farm Boy is great store.
In the winter we ski and then I come home and cook Sunday dinner. I will use the crock-pot, do ribs and make sure there are left-overs. My kids love my cooking, even prefer it to going out.
In February Chef Lyness will be introducing his new menu at Brookstreet. I for one can’t wait to see it and look forward to bringing family and friends out to this very beautiful space for some great food.
Check here for your tickets to the NAC event January 24th and get an opportunity to meet this awesome chef and many others, ask them questions and try their fabulous dishes. See you there!