As someone who loves to cook, being able to stand in his kitchen and watch waves crashing against the shore across the road at Sydney’s Manly Beach is as good as it gets for Tom Rutherford. The event consultant and trained chef, who has catered everything from the legendary 1980s Cointreau Balls to private and corporate events for the Pratt family, and his wife Edwina regularly entertain friends at their luxurious North Steyne apartment. “We have a couple of lunches a month, and they go long,” Rutherford says. “They’re never a short affair.”
Guests often start with canapés on the front terrace, before sitting down to dine at a table shaped like a boat’s hull that Rutherford, a keen sailor, designed and built. The 3.5m-long elliptical table also acts as his desk outside mealtimes. Other pieces he has made include teak side tables with a stainless steel frame which loop around the top and bottom of the white leather lounge, and outdoor cedar stools with a base inspired by an anchor. A full set of Louis Vuitton Cup posters from the America’s Cup Challenger series also lines the wall in the living room, as Rutherford also catered events for the upscale French fashion house for nearly two decades. “I just love the whole nautical theme and boats have so many components that you can bring into your furniture,” he says.
Rutherford inherited his talent from his late father, a banker-turned furniture maker, who left him a couple of tonne of exotic wood when he passed away in 2001. The couple’s 26-year-old son, Cullen, who also lives there, is a carpenter who often works alongside Rutherford at his workshop in an industrial area at Brookvale, just a few minutes’ drive away.
One of the things the family loves about the three-bedroom apartment in the Atlantis building is the fact it is loosely divided in half, with the bedrooms in the middle. Cullen lives in the area at the rear, which includes an outdoor area and a gym, and the folks have the front section largely to themselves. The couple met more than 30 years ago when Rutherford was moving into a house in Kirribilli and advertised in the paper for a flatmate. “She applied for the flatmate position and never left,” he jokes.
They have lived in various locations over the years, including Balmain and Hunters Hill, before making the move to the northern beaches when Rutherford bought Beach Road Restaurant at the celebrity enclave Palm Beach in 2003. An old sign from the eatery, which he ran for nearly a decade, now hangs on the wall on their terrace. They lived in Queenscliff before moving into their current abode five years ago to be closer to the action. “It just has everything,” Rutherford says. “It’s a 4km walk to Shelly Beach and back, which we do every morning, and an 18-minute fast ferry ride into the city.” As serious foodies, the pair also appreciate being walking distance to Manly’s many restaurants. “We stroll down to Manly Greenhouse and have lunch or dinner,” Rutherford says. “We hardly drive anywhere.” Hugo’s at Manly Wharf and Manly Pavilion are other favourites.
The couple also love travelling, and host high-end gastronomy and cultural tours to destinations including Spain and the Napa Valley each year. While they are usually too busy checking out different restaurants when they are away to do much souvenir shopping, a matryoshka doll they came across in Russia took their fancy and is now also on display in the living room. “We just liked it,” Rutherford says simply.