Hilton Colombo introduces new Executive Chef Daniel Leah

Friday, 27 September 2013 00:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Marianne David The Hilton Colombo is gearing up for some exciting times ahead, what with it being a designated CHOGM hotel and also scheduled to close soon after for extensive renovations, which will result in a whole new offering that will be unveiled towards end 2014, guaranteed to delight guests by Christmas time. Adding some flavour and flair to all this unfolding excitement is the hotel’s new Executive Chef Daniel Leah, who was introduced to the media by Marketing Communications Manager Gigi De Silva and Assistant Manager – Public Relations Yasanthi Wadugodapitiya on Tuesday over lunch. Leah used the opportunity to impress those present with his extraordinary culinary and creative skills, with a ‘Chef’s Table’ of which each course was visually stunning and delicious. While Leah’s new to the Hilton Colombo, he’s certainly not new to the Hilton chain, having been part and parcel of it for the last 16 years, with many more to come as he embarks on a new culinary adventure in Colombo. Prior to taking up his position in Colombo, Chef Leah enjoyed stints with Hilton Worldwide in Saudi Arabia, India and the United Kingdom. Leah joined the impressive Hilton Colombo team just two weeks ago, on 9 September, while his wife and two-and-a-half year old son arrived in town a few days ago. Sri Lanka is not unexplored territory to Leah, who’s vacationed here on two earlier occasions. “I enjoy Sri Lanka; it’s a beautiful place. I like spices a lot and I enjoy cooking spicy food!” asserted the charming Chef, as we sat down at Spoons for the special lunch he had prepared for the occasion, which he described as a mix of British and Sri Lankan seafood. First up were the delicious starters – Slipper Lobster Cocktail hinted with Double Black, Light Haddock Lollipop with Horseradish Dip, and Crustacean Cappuccino (the last was divine!) – followed by mains of Pan-Fried Sea Bass Medallion Crusted with Sundried Tomato, Baked Garlic and Raisin and Scallop and Green Asparagus Wellington. Chef had prepared an unusual green tea puree as part of this dish, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Dessert was a beautifully presented Bailey’s Caramel Mousse with Trilogy and Berry Salsa. Commenting on plans for the days ahead, Chef stated: “We’re preparing for CHOGM right now which is a big event for us and we’ll be closing in December, but there will be a few changes before we close. I’m looking forward to continuing the great work done by the chef before me. We’ll be introducing new concepts and new restaurants, adding on some different things.” Chef Leah replaces Rohan Fernandopulle who left Hilton Worldwide to further pursue his career in the hospitality industry. According to the hotel, Leah, who will report to General Manager Rudolf Troestler, will be responsible for overall kitchen operations of its iconic restaurants, bars as well as banqueting. Troestler asserted: “We are happy to have Daniel on the team and we look forward to introducing a variety of concepts in our food and beverage areas of the hotel and deliver a unique experience to the discerning diner.” Leah, who’s been in the industry for around 20 years and has a diploma in professional cookery from North Area College, Stockport, United Kingdom, says that what he loves most about his chosen career is meeting new people and learning to cook different kinds of cuisines. Commenting on what made him stay on with the Hilton for so long, Chef said: “I like the Hilton’s philosophy and I think the way they promote people and develop them is fantastic!” Notable achievements in Leah’s career have been stints in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including the Hilton Jeddah, which is famous for catering to large banquets of 35,000 covers and dealing with international dignitaries for governments and visiting Royal families from around the world. Leah has also been part of the opening team of the seven-star property, Hilton Waldorf Astoria Qasr Al Sharq, and many properties in the United Kingdom. Pix by Cheranka Mendis