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Greg Bultitude – My Life in Hospitality

Greg Bultitude is the group executive chef for Crerar Hotels.

Greg Bultitude's career in the kitchen began when he was 12 years old and craved a new BMX bike. In order to raise the cash to pay for it, he sought a dishwashing job at a local restaurant in Tuncurry-Forster, a small fishing town in New South Wales, Australia.

It wasn't long before he became fascinated by the culinary side of the kitchen.

"I started watching the chefs prepare seafood dishes using such beautiful produce: live lobsters and fresh fish were delivered daily from the local village. It looked amazing," he recalls.

Bultitude convinced the restaurant owner to give him the chance to cook. He bought his first chef's knife at the tender age of 14, which with pride he carefully wrapped in a tea-towel every night. Adrenaline and a desire to learn everything he could drove Bultitude forward. And he says he couldn't wait to see what he could do.

During his apprenticeship and subsequent commercial catering course at university, Bultitude worked in a variety of fine-dining restaurants, service clubs and hotels around Australia, which he says gave him the chance to learn many different styles of cooking.

"I did everything: fine dining, five-star hotels, nursing homes. I learned to cook for sufferers of coeliac disease and diabetes. The opportunities were amazing."

By the age of 22, Bultitude had two head chef positions under his belt: one at an Italian restaurant called Noni's and another at Dwyers, a modern cuisine eatery, both on the central coast of New South Wales.

"Being head chef at those places at such a young age meant I had to grow up quite quickly and learn the trade as fast I could," he explains.

"The biggest lesson I learned is that it's about what the customers want to eat - not what the chef wants to cook."

Three years on and Bultitude took a life-changing step. An ad in the local paper for a job in the Scottish highlands was an opportunity for Bultitude to realise another of his life's ambitions, and work abroad.

He spent 12 months working in a small fine-dining restaurant where he learned to work with a new local larder, as he soon found out that the UK industry is markedly different to his native Australia.

"Eating habits aren't the same in the UK. I'd come from a very Asian-influenced cuisine and when I moved over I had to learn what the Scots like to eat, how they like to eat it and how to infuse that into my style of cooking," he says.

It wasn't long before Bultitude was ready for his next challenge. He joined Crerar as group executive chef for the operator's group of 10 hotels, a role he relishes.

"They've seen something in me and I've loved it ever since I started because it's never repetitive," he explains.

"I've definitely chosen the right career path. Some people choose the celebrity chef path but that's not what I'm about. I'd rather be recognised for the food I do; the food I do well."

HIGHS… Realising his dream of working in a fine-dining restaurant and learning a new food culture.

"I'd always set myself goals," Bultitude explains. "I wanted to be a chef, to work in a five-star restaurant and move to the other side of the world to see how the other side live."

LOWS… Disaster struck five years ago at a wedding. With just 20 minutes to go before dinner was to be served, an apprentice dropped the soup.

"The floor was a river of roasted red pepper soup, tomato and fennel," recalls Bultitude.

"We had to get 17 pots on the stoves in order to make the same soup to the same spec. We did it though, and we were only 10 minutes late.

"At the end of the day the bride and groom were immensely happy. We all laughed later on, but we certainly weren't laughing at the time."

Family Married to a Scottish lassie
Age 35
Favourite holiday Going home to New South Wales to see family
Drives Ford Focus
Motto If we look professional, we feel professional and therefore we act professional

RECESSION-BUSTING TIP

Seasonal food is cheaper; also, using the local larder keeps money in local villages

TagsHotels and My Life
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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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