Andrew Manion Copley
Chef Andrew's resumé of international kitchen positions began in the unassuming northern region of Yorkshire in his native England. Unlike many professional chefs, there were no culinary influences in his childhood. That is until he found himself the only male in a cooking class at his middle school. The teacher of that first class spotted Andrew's natural culinary talent and urged him to pursue it as a career and so, at the age of sixteen, he enrolled in a local culinary school. When the same teacher moved on to London's Westminster Culinary College, Andrew followed his mentor and the rest, as they say, is history.
After receiving his culinary degree, Chef Andrew started his career in style with positions at two prestigious London establishments, the Savoy and Park Lane Hotels. This 5-star beginning continued when Andrew signed on with the luxurious ocean liner QE II, where he worked in the ship's formal dining room. More importantly, this sailing launched an award-winning sojourn that has included some of the most exotic ports, and kitchens, in the world.
He jumped ship, so to speak, on Australia's Sunshine Coast region where he held positions at many 5-star establishments. Notable, was a three-year stint at the Grand Hyatt and another at Lizards Island Lodge, two of the most exclusive resorts in the world. But his best accomplishment while in Australia was meeting his wife and eventual business partner, Juliana. Together Juliana and Andrew left Australia for successive one-year positions at each of the Ritz Carlton's two most esteemed venues in Maui and San Francisco followed by another lengthier docking of three years at the Lodge of Koele on the island of Lanai, Hawaii.
At each port-of-call, Andrew bolstered his reputation by consistently garnishing awards for his kitchens that all began with such accolades as "BEST" or "#1" in numerous categories. His course, plotted on a map, certainly would have been the envy of any sophisticated, red-carpet international traveler.
Chef Andrew Manion Copley, after a 20-year career journey that took him around the world, has found a home within a home to practice his own brand of cuisine that is as unique as the location of his restaurant. Copley's on Palm Canyon is the former guest house estate of actor Cary Grant in the desert town of Palm Springs, California. The actor used the house as guest quarters for family and friends. The hacienda-style compound was rumored to be an infamous center of decadence, in the star-studded neighborhood on the edge of Palm Springs, in the 1940s and '50s. Chef Andrew and wife Juliana are building an altogether new reputation for the address, after completely revamping the property to create a warm and intimate dining space.
The rebirth of this historic location was quite a feat in itself that took exactly 64 days of almost continuous construction. The one-acre property was refurbished, remodeled and replanted down to each tree and shrub. The meandering paths of the garden and smell of the now restored hardwood flooring in the main house awakens a time gone-by when these same rooms were lit up with the laughs of Hollywood's Golden Era celebrities enjoying the fruits of their fame. Besides the comfortably rich hacienda-style decor of the main building, balmy desert evenings provide for a lush patio garden dining experience filled with the soothing sound of fountain waters, tinkling silverware and hushed conversations. The ambience of the entire grounds, inside and out, retains the home feeling of the building's original purpose.
Strangely, after years of working in kitchens with sea breezes, Chef Andrew chose to finally set his own culinary anchor in the California desert. "It is odd, isn't it? Actually, my wife's family lives in this part of California, so I had been visiting here regularly for several years," explained the chef. "After so much travel, no matter how exotic, Palm Springs was really the most natural spot for us since we had family here already." Adding wryly, "Plus I play a bit of golf and the Palm Springs community has a few nice courses that I’ve been known to enjoy." At the last count, there were 125 courses and more under construction.
Andrew's other sports passion is soccer, which I think may have also contributed to the chef's underlying mindset for ownership. "I really am a fan; I can now pull a television right into my own kitchen when a match is on without asking permission from anyone! Of course, there are challenges with running any business, but I am enjoying being my own boss, managing my own time and working with the best set of friends one could ever hope to have as partners in business and life."
In spite of Palms Springs having a reputation as an international vacation destination, Copley's on Palm Canyon is a neighborhood restaurant that is located some distance from the bright lights of the downtown restaurant district. "While we knew this specific neighborhood had a rich history synonymous with the Golden Era of the movie industry, we have been quite surprised at the amount of local patrons who support us with regular visits."
In fact, the chef boasts that it is his neighbors, not the tourists, who have supported the 90% nightly occupancy for dinner throughout the season. It is also the locals who sell out the chef's cooking classes, both at the restaurant and on an annual cruise that he and Juliana organize during the one-month that the restaurant closes in August.
The fare at Copley's on Palm Canyon is supported by an extensive use of herbs and fresh seasonal produce; the herbs are grown in three large planters in the back section of the garden. "I am passionate about the use of herbs in most all of the dishes we serve," said the chef, "our weather and soil does limit what can be produced locally, but many herbs grow great here and we have plans to expand the plantings to include even more varieties of seasonings." The chef does procure some specialty crop ingredients from a few small farmers in the Coachella Valley, which is a highly productive farming region just to the south of Palm Springs. He also works closely with a foodservice wholesaler in Los Angeles so that his menu will mirror seasonal produce availability.
For this feature, Chef Andrew has contributed a wonderful three-course meal that shows off his artful use of herbs throughout, even in an unusual ice cream dessert. The subtle combinations of herbs give a unique taste twist to a favorite soup recipe and there's a very interesting use of specialty mushrooms to present Halibut in deliciously inventive way.
- Restaurateur - Copley's on Palm Canyon - Palm Springs, California
- Ship's Chef for the QE II - this sailing launched Copley's career that has included some of the most exotic ports, and kitchens, in the world.
- Copley's on Palm Canyon - former guest house estate of actor Cary Grant in the desert town of Palm Springs, California.