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Chef Speak>>William Doyle
Executive Chef/InterContinental Milwaukee

Photos by Dan Bishop

November 2012

InterContinental-Milwaukee Executive Chef William Doyle has enough Irish in him to truly appreciate green. That love affair certainly spills over to garden greens Ö in fact, anything fresh and seasonal is fantastic. Taking over this past spring, his kitchen at the downtown hotel overflows with the flavorful.

The youngest of three sisters and one brother, Doyle grew up in upstate New Yorkís lake region. His career path was shaped early, when his dad picked him up from middle school and headed to nearby orchards to collect fruits and vegetables until the sun went down. A friend often came along and "we would either work very hard and make good money or goof around the whole time and throw rotten fruit at each other," he chuckles.

Always a foodie, Doyle cooked at a country club throughout high school. When the chef there took him to visit the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., he instantly knew what he wanted to do professionally. "I saw the opportunity to be creative and stand out as an individual, and also work with a team in an industry that offers a lifetime of knowledge, opportunity and challenges," he says.

Prior to the InterCon, Doyle served as an executive chef for Doubletree Hotels, and most recently for eight years as executive chef at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center in Oklahoma. There, he was responsible for managing all culinary operations, from banquets to restaurants.

Serving up to 4,500 people for major events, Doyle emphasizes three main things an executive chef must do when preparing for a banquet. First, the menu needs to be envisioned, then the prep and presentation must be planned and articulated in every detail. Finally, the fundamentals need to be executed flawlessly when it comes to seasoning, doneness, temperature and presentation.

"The first thing that I did at the InterCon was observe and evaluate. You canít change or improve that which you do not know," he says, spending one-on-one time with every team member. "I took great notes, got many different viewpoints and gave them the opportunity to get to know me as well."

An avid reader about the restaurant industry and a fervent collector of ideas, Doyle admits heís definitely not a recipe guy. "I am classically trained and a student of the art. I became an executive chef for a major hotel company at 25 years old, so I have always had to be a student to succeed. I study theories, ratios and science so that I know why and not just how," he explains of his culinary process.

Doyle says no time limit can be put on earning the distinction of being a chef. But one thing is certain, the process does not happen overnight or by merely passing time. "You have to be your own worst critic, be humble, never stop learning, embrace the highest of standards and show initiative. And you may actually be a chef by the time you retire," he confides.

Professionally, it was easy and exciting for Doyle to come to Milwaukee, a city he points out has a lot of character and few limits. At the InterCon, heís concentrating on areas that will have the most impact while building a solid base for what he considers his teamís long-term success. Doyle is pleased that hotelís parent, Marcus Corp., has given him full support and the freedom to constantly grow and improve culinary operations.

"We have initiated a rooftop garden program and continue to explore the farmers markets, cheesemakers, charcuterie shops and many other local food artisans," he adds. "This will continue to be a huge focus of ours, and not because itís trendy, but because it speaks to quality and common sense."

On the personal side, he and Wendi, his wife of 17 years, have two children, 12-year-old son, Cole, and 2-year-old daughter, Briana. The household includes Boomer, a Persian cat; ChipperDo, a 4-pound Shi-Poo; and two St. Bernards named CandyCane and Sampson, the latter topping out at 160 pounds.

"Whoever is the hungriest, cooks," Doyle confides of his off-duty home kitchen. "That way, itís fast and simple. Quite frankly, it canít always be considered cooking. We like to keep it simple or eat out," he says. His favorite foods include duck, mustard, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, blue cheese and any fresh fruit or vegetable.

Doyle stresses that a chef has to make a conscious effort to be healthy in an industry that has many pitfalls. Subsequently, he rarely eats desserts and doesnít particularly care for chocolate. "I work out to relax and eat whatever I want," he adds. "My best advice is to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables in a meal as you can and diversify your diet."


This story ran in the November 2012 issue of: