Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou
- 5 Zhujiang West Road, Pearl River New City, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, 510623, China
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2010
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Sydney Olympic Park Hotels for Accor; The Pier, Sydney; Summit Restaurant and Orbit Bar, Sydney; Black Bird, Sydney; Janz Corp., Sydney; Armstrong’s Restaurant, Sydney; Park Hyatt, Tokyo; Sydney Opera House; Bluebird Restaurant/Bluebird Club, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Park Hyatt, Sydney; Grand Hotel, Jersey; Dove-cliff Hall Hotel, Burton on Trent; The Vine House Hotel, Northampton; St. Crispins Hospital, Northampton
- Dudley, England
- Culinary Degree, Northampton College of Further Education, Northampton, England
“I’ve always liked the challenge of opening rather than taking the helm of a restaurant that’s up and running,” says David Greenhill, who, as Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, must be in heaven overseeing the debuts of six dining and entertainment venues, an extensive banqueting operation, as well as two employee canteens.
Greenhill has spent 20 years preparing for what seems his ultimate posting in Guangzhou, where mostly local diners from government and business offices will fill his 842 seats. He traces the start of his culinary career to a fateful decision made as a student in the West Midlands of England: “I had the option of studying home economics in a classroom full of girls or woodshop with the boys. The choice seemed pretty obvious to me.”
A passion for all things culinary led Greenhill to renowned restaurants across England as well as to Tokyo and Sydney. While in Australia, he helped fashion the Sydney Opera House’s culinary packages for the XXVII Olympiad and launched a successful condiment line in conjunction with a local television personality.
Like anything, Greenhill’s career path hasn’t been without bumps. But he has been concerted in his effort to learn from them. On his third day as Chef de Cuisine of a popular hotel restaurant in Tokyo, for instance, the bump came from a local chef who was less-than-thrilled at having an outsider in the kitchen. “He called me the equivalent of ‘soft guy’ and tossed a 10 kg bag of red onions at me,” recalls Greenhill. “My choice was to say, ‘I’m the boss’ or ‘Okay, I’ll show you how to dice.’” He chose the latter and gained respect. “On my last day I handed that same chef a bag of onions; the kitchen fell about laughing. You have to pick your battles in order to progress. What this gentleman needed was direction, and my reaction was the best way to give it to him.”
Among challenges Greenhill has focused on in Guangzhou is obtaining Four Seasons quality provisions. Local ingredients are no problem, he says, ticking off everything from water beetles to superb pork and poultry that are available in abundance. But high taxes make importing seafood and vegetables more difficult, and Greenhill has worked hard making connections to secure premium provisions at the best price.
He has also focused on getting the most out of his 200-cook brigade, 98 percent of whom are hired from within China. “We’ve been extremely vigilant about the way we train and treat people to be sure Four Seasons level service comes across to everyone,” he says. “Earning respect by working alongside my team and supporting my staff is my highest priority – as it should be for any chef.”
A “lover of all cuisines” who likens cooking to music for the way each speaks to people around the world, Greenhill is happiest pursuing a more-the-merrier approach to his craft. “One of the best things the earth has to offer us is the ability to sit around and enjoy ourselves at the table,” he says. By that reasoning, Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou is headed for the top.