Chef Biography

Born in 1940 at the beginning of WW II, in Cologne, Germany, Willy Coln began his schooling immediately following the end of the war.  At age 14, in 1954, he attended Hotel Restaurant School for 3 years in Cologne, during which he served as an chef apprentice in the Rasthaus Hotel, then from 1957-1958 in the Restaurant Hotel Whalfish, both also in Cologne.  In 1958 he went to Switzerland and became the commis de cuisine at the St. Godart Hotel followed by the Hotel Rigihof in 1960, both in Zurich.

In 1961 he joined the Holland America Line as a line chef aboard their various ships, made two around the world trips with numerous excursions in the South Pacific and Caribbean.

In 1964, the Hotel Corporation of America (later known as the Royal Sonesta Hotels) made him an offer to work at many of their various properties, starting at the Hotel America in Hartford, Connecticut as chef saucier.  After that Chef Coln joined their Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans as chef garde manager; then in 1967 to their Savannah Inn &  Country Club as sous chef initially, and then moved up to executive chef, before being transferred back to New Orleans’ Royal Orleans property as sous chef.

In 1969-1972, he was their executive chef at the Sonesta Beach Hotel in Key Biscayne Florida, until the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans on Bourbon Street opened in 1972, and he was transferred back as the executive chef for four more years. In 1962-63 he spent time in Isle of Man as Chef de Cuisine then received the offer to he received an offer as the head butcher and garde manager at the Savoie Hotel in Blackpool, England.

Not getting any younger, in 1976 Chef Willy Coln opened his own restaurant on the west bank of New Orleans’ Mississippi River, and he called it Willy Coln’s Chalet.  It received awards from around the world.

In 1979, a local television crew, that later would become the Great Chefs television crew, were taping a “Chefs’ Charity” event for a local school in New Orleans.  One of the chefs was Willy Coln.  Actually, all of the chefs were so much fun to work with, we decided to try a 13-part series called Great Chefs of New Orleans, and Chef Willy Coln agreed to work with us on it.  Willy and 12 other local chefs participated in what eventually became Great Chefs of New Orleans, and history began.

Chef Willy kept the Chalet going for 14 years until 1990, when he had an offer to become the executive chef of the Veranda in the New Orleans Intercontinental Hotel, where he stayed until he retired, just two months before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005.  Some say Chef Willy Coln went out with a bang.


Filet Stroganoff

Serving: 4 Print Filet Stroganoff By Great Chefs November 15, 2015 Beef Stroganoff is a classic, simmered beef in a sauce tangy with sour cream. Willy Coln serves this stroganoff with spaetzle; it works well with any pasta, or brown rice. His spaetzle recipe is given separately. Ingredients Beef Tenderloin – 1-1/2 pounds, cubed Flour […]


Serving: 4 Print Spaetzle By Great Chefs November 15, 2015 Willy Coln accompanies his Filet Stroganoff with this spaetzle, a fresh grain-like pasta with just a hint of nutmeg. Ingredients Flour – 2 cups Eggs – 4 Pinch of freshly ground white pepper Pinch of grated nutmeg Pinch of salt Water – 1-1/2 cups Unsalted […]

Gingerbread House

Yield: 1 Print Gingerbread House By Great Chefs October 20, 2015 The sight of a real gingerbread house awakens all the wonderful family Yuletide emotions. You can create a small traditional house, go all out on a sprawling mansion, or even re-create your own house to amuse the family. Commercial molds and cookie cutters for […]

Filet Stroganof with Spaetzle

Serving: 4 Print Filet Stroganof with Spaetzle By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Beef Stroganof, always delicious with its sour cream and whisper of nutmeg, is served with homemade spaetzle. The spaetzle, a type of pasta, also gets a hint of nutmeg to enhance the dish. Ingredients Beef Tenderloin – 1-1/2 pounds, cubed Flour for […]

Crab Provencal – Curried Snow Crab Claws

Serving: 4 Print Crab Provencal – Curried Snow Crab Claws By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Ingredients Olive Oil – 1/4 cup (alt. Canola Oil) Celery – 2 stalks, chopped Carrot – 1, chopped Tomatoes – 2, peeled, seeded, and chopped Onion – 1 large, minced Parsley – 2 tablespoons, minced Apple – 1, sliced […]


Yield: 6 Rounds Serving: 6 Print Lavosh By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Lavosh is a round yeast flatbread. The recipe is simple, using only yeast, sugar, warm water, flour, and butter. Chef Coln sprinkles sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and even chopped onions on the tops for variety. Ingredients Active Dry Yeast – 1 package […]

Chocolate Mousse

Serving: 4 Print Chocolate Mousse By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 This is so simple — and so delicious! Melting the chocolate into the cream creates ganache, which is whipped, flavored with rum, and chilled. Pipe it into a pretty glass and it looks — and tastes — like you worked all day! Ingredients Semi-sweet […]

Fried Crawfish Tails

Serving: 4 Print Fried Crawfish Tails By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 A Louisiana favorite, crawfish tails are eaten boiled, fried, and cooked into many dishes. For this delicious variation, Willy Coln deep-fries the tails in a dark beer batter and serves them with spicy mayonnaise. Ingredients Crawfish Tail Meat – 1 pound, peeled and […]

Duck in Green Peppercorn Sauce

Serving: 4 Print Duck in Green Peppercorn Sauce By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Chef Willy Coln, who hails from Cologne, Germany, and began his apprenticeship in the kitchen at age 14, draws on his heritage for this dish, serving the rich golden-brown duck with a side dish of sweet-and-sour red cabbage. The green peppercorn […]

Strawberries Romanoff

Serving: 6 Print Strawberries Romanoff By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Pretty in pink — marinated strawberries are swirled in whipped cream and garnished with a whole berry. The elegance of this somewhat retro dessert shows why it remains popular. Ingredients Strawberries – 1 pound, fresh, stemmed and diced Grand Marnier – 1/2 cup Cherry […]

Bahamian Chowder

Serving: 6-8 Print Bahamian Chowder By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 A perfect beginning to a heavy meal, this light, bright chowder features plump shrimp and pieces of fish in a savory tomato and wine-based broth. Cut the vegetables in fine — even matchstick — julienne to give the dish an elegant appearance. Ingredients Raw […]

Cold Poached Salmon with Sauce Verte

Serving: 4 Print Cold Poached Salmon with Sauce Verte By Great Chefs May 23, 2014 Pink salmon chunks are served with herbed Sauce Verte and a simple garnish of alternating cucumber and lemon slices. The salmon is poached in a court bouillon of wine and vegetables, then chilled. Since the work is done ahead of […]

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