Hi, My Name Is: Jordan Clay

Published on June 19 2019.

Photo: Jordan Clay, head chef at Cumululs Up

Melbourne’s a long way from Alberta, where Canadian chef Jordan Clay grew up. But this young chef has made himself right at home here, working at Pei Modern and now Cumulus Up, where he's bringing plenty of winter comfort to the current menu.

Hi, my name is Jordan Clay

You might remember me from such establishments as L’Abbatoir in Vancouver or Pei Modern in Melbourne.

My brief for my new gig is to use the best local ingredients to create a menu of wholesome dishes that are best enjoyed with a glass of wine.

I’m passionate about nature and the seasons; they have such a big influence over my creativity as a chef. Fleeting seasons for things like truffles, mushrooms, spring vegetables or game birds make it much more satisfying to show them off on the plate. It keeps the evolution of the menu going and, ultimately, keeps us all motivated.

Which means I’ll be cooking a bouillabaisse to make the most of the local seafood that’s at its peak right now. It has quite a traditional shellfish base, then depending on what’s looking the best that week, it might include mussels, clams, prawns or whole roasted rock flathead. It comes with a nice chunk of chargrilled bread and rouille and you can share it between two people or a few more, along with some other things from the menu.

The song that I love to listen to when I’m cooking right now is anything on Lucas Croon’s EP or Mac DeMarco “Here Comes the Cowboy".

I’ll be trying to bring a little piece of Canada to the menu at Cumulus Up by sneaking maple syrup into sauces and dressings. It may be a bit of a cliché, but I do love maple syrup. Pain perdu is on our dessert menu right now, which we finish with the finest syrup from Canada.

I’d like you to come in and see us at Cumulus Up so you can enjoy a plate of Sydney rock oysters and a well-made Martini up at the bar or lean in for a full spread and plenty of wine with friends. It is such a beautiful room, I really love cooking in it. We’re also lucky to have legends like Tara Webster and Chris Ryan on the floor. Together with the rest of the team, they really know how to look after you.

If there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying, it's the dry-aged duck breast with black lentil and quince. It’s excellent at this time of year. These ducks have such an incredible flavour and it's looking like the quince season is going to extend into July, which is brilliant. To me, a dish like this epitomises what I want to enjoy at a wine bar in the midst of a Melbourne winter.

See what tasty dishes Jordan’s cooking up at Cumulus Up this winter (and beyond) over on the @cumulusup Instagram.

Cumulus Up, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, (03) 9654 9545, cumulusup.com.au