Chef Profile September 2019: Kyle Greer, executive head chef at Hastings Europa Hotel
WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO COOKING?
I worked part-time in a hotel in Antrim while at school. I loved my job and found myself wanting to learn more and more. At the weekends when I was on breakfast, I would try to cook random things that the boys could use for lunch specials. The drive comes from the fact that you never stop learning – cooking is constantly reinventing itself.
I studied for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Ulster University. I undertook a full-time degree initially but very quickly missed full-time kitchen work, so I completed my degree part-time. This was something I felt I needed to do to ensure I had something to fall back on; it taught me discipline and organisation as I had to finish long days, then go back and work on my degree.
HAVE YOU ANY CULINARY QUALIFICATIONS?
I don’t hold formal culinary qualifications. I’m very much of the mindset that the role is very practical, and experience is the best way to learn. I am a practical thinker, so my best route was on-the-job learning. Everyone is different; hence why there are so many routes into the industry.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE TRADE?
I started in a small hotel in Antrim cooking breakfast and washing dishes and then I moved to the restaurant, Tom Aikens, before working my way through the ranks in No27 Talbot Street and, during this time, I competed for Young Chef of the Year. I then joined the Europa Hotel as junior sous chef before moving to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. After a few years, I moved back to Belfast for my first role as head chef at Malmaison, before heading up the team at Danny Millar’s Parson’s Nose in Hillsborough with that role growing between there and The Poacher’s Pocket.
HAS ANYONE INSPIRED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
Many people have inspired me. I have worked with some amazing talent throughout my life at all levels. Nowadays anyone can provide inspiration to me with social media, mainstream media, the multitude of restaurants in the city; all I have to do is look around me.
The driving force in my career is my family, Gemma and Fia. I always want to keep pushing to ensure we can have the best chances in life to experience everything we want to.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR CURRENT VENUE?
I first started working in the Europa Hotel in 2011 as junior sous. After gaining my experience, I left to gain further skills in another city and eventually made my way back to the Europa in November 2018.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD SOURCING POLICY?
Hastings has a fantastic food sourcing policy. Howard really is the driving force behind all of it; he is very passionate about this small country and the fantastic food it produces. We work with local companies and have such a great relationship with them that we can produce and source anything we need. We highlight all of our suppliers big and small, our guests love to read about them and, with our guests coming from all over the world, it is such a great showcase for our food culture.