By Elle Perry – Digital Producer, Memphis Business Journal
Mar 15, 2018, 7:45am CDT Updated Mar 21, 2018, 11:24am
Although Leland Spence has more than a decade of executive chef experience and is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he credits his grandmother for teaching him cooking basics when he was just six years old.
Now Spence is part of a trio of new chefs hired at The Guest House at Graceland.
Spence serves as the hotel’s executive chef. He has plans to add one of his favorites, parmesan boursin risotto with truffle corn puree and filet mignon with barbecue foie gras demi, to the hotel’s menu this spring. He will also supervise all dining at Guest House at Graceland, including Delta’s Kitchen, E.P.’s Bar and Grill, Shake Rattle and Go coffee bar, Lobby Bar, catering and banquets.
Before joining Guest House, he was at the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel where he managed a team of 40 culinary and stewarding staff.
New chef de cuisine Seth Harris attributes his father — a professional baker — with teaching him techniques when he was eight. At Guest House, Harris will oversee Delta’s Kitchen, as well as E.P.’s Bar and Grill.
Previously, Harris oversaw kitchens for Bourbon Street Steakhouse at Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis and 61 Grille Steakhouse at Resorts Tunica Casino. He also worked for eight years at Felicia Suzanne‘s Restaurant, as well as in the kitchen at Memphis Country Club and Germantown Country Club.
The hotel’s third new hire, executive sous chef Ken Griffith, started as a sous chef with Guest House before it opened. In his new role, he oversees the hotel’s schedule of events, which range from small meetings to 1,000-person affairs.
Griffith’s introduction into the culinary world came from helping his brother-in-law open a restaurant in St. Louis, where he served as kitchen supervisor. He also worked as banquet chef at the Regal Riverfront Hotel in St. Louis, as buffet chef at Millennium Hotel and Cardinals Nation.
“We are very pleased with our new culinary team and look forward to adding Chef Spence’s Southern specialties to the menus,” said Jerry Jensen, vice president of sales and marketing at the hotel. “Each chef brings a high level of professionalism, innovation and talent to their position, which translates to the dining experience at The Guest House.”
The $92 million, 450-room hotel opened in late 2016. Since its opening, AAA has added it to its Four-Diamond hotels list, which also includes The Peabody Memphis, the Madison Hotel, River Inn of Harbor Town and The Westin Beale Street.