The quirky Turbine Boutique Hotel on Thesen Island in Knysna has appointed Greg Coleman as its new executive chef, who brings more than 20 years of experience in the industry to his new role.

“I’m really thrilled to be taking up this position at the Turbine, one of South Africa’s best boutique hotels,” he says.

Greg Coleman started out as Sous chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then the Mount Nelson Hotel, before moving on to Plettenberg Bay Hotel as Executive Chef. From there he moved to Pezula Championship Golf Course Clubhouse as Executive Chef and later as the Event Chef and Kitchen Manager and then as General Manager/Head Chef at the East Head Café. While he was at the East Head Café, he was pronounced one of SASSI’s Trailblazers for 2015 for actively promoting sustainable seafood at the restaurant.

“I’m committed to a sustainable hospitality industry, inspired by local produce and diverse cultures and I’m passionate about selecting products that are as fresh as possible from the land and the sea and creating dishes that reflect the natural flavour and integrity of the ingredients,” says Coleman. “I try to keep my food simple, fresh and interesting – from flavour to texture and hope that the flavours are exciting enough to make one return for more”.

In his new role at The Turbine, Greg Coleman will be overseeing all aspects of the property’s F&B. The 5-star boutique hotel has a 90-seater Island Café that offers imaginative breakfasts, light lunches and gourmet dinners daily, while its Gastro Pub focuses on gourmet-style pub food. We chatted with the chef about his new role, leadership style and what he likes to do on his day off.

What was enticing about taking on the position of exec chef at Turbine? The heritage of the building and Geoff & Dandre’s appreciation for art.

How would you describe your leadership style, and how will you be bringing this to the Turbine kitchens?  My style is quietly focused. I don’t like noise and distractions; areas must be clean and orderly for the thought process to flourish. Service is usually crazy frantic so to have a tidy, organised space leads to well-executed plates of food. Where possible I lead from behind and ‘on the stoves’, allowing team members the opportunity to grow.

What are some of the hurdles to overcome as new exec chef at Turbine? Implementing systems, changing mind sets and the way the team works all demand patience. Mostly though, convincing the local market that we are open and have a new focus to the way we are running our business.

What has one of the biggest learning lessons been for you throughout your career? Learning the importance of good communication. This remains a challenge for me.

What do you have planned for the Turbine menu overall? I am passionate about farm to table, as well as smoking, curing and slow cooking. An example dish is Braised brisket with baby heirloom vegetables and pickled red onions.

What do you think are some of the must-have elements on a menu in Knysna? A great hollandaise sauce, fresh fish, mussels and oysters.

When it comes to sustainability, what is a major challenge that chefs face when trying to implement a sustainable menu, and any advice on overcoming this? Our biggest challenge is creating an appreciation by all for fresh produce, from vegetables to meats. Educating cooks about the importance of buying fresh, rather than frozen, being creative with the preservation and use of the product always maintaining its integrity.

Quickfire

Favourite ingredient to work with? Fresh fish

A dish that you’ll always have on the menu? Seafood Curry

Favourite way to spend your day off? Beekeeping

Most memorable dining experience? Making and eating pancakes with friends as a teenager. For a serious dining experience though, Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia and Thali.

Favourite restaurants? Locally ile de pain for a croissant, Trinity for a coffee, East Head Café for their Fish and chips, and Barrington’s in Plettenberg Bay.

Turbine Boutique Hotel

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