Grand Geneva Chef Nelly Buleje Returns to His Roots
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa’s newly appointed executive chef Nelly Buleje is back home and bringing new flavor and a new approach to the resort's kitchens. From leading kitchens across the country and traveling the world in search of inspiration, flavors, and technique, Buleje is back in the kitchen where he began his chef career and ready to put his hometown on the culinary map.
Born in Chicago and raised in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Buleje began his culinary journey at the age of 11 cooking for his family. Buleje further developed his passion for cooking early on while serving as an evening cook at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. He later advanced to become the resort’s chef de cuisine, overseeing several culinary outlets including the golf and ski chalet and Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. He was then named executive sous chef at a sister Marcus Hotels property, Milwaukee ChopHouse. His career led him to become executive chef at the Richmond Marriott in Virginia, and he then went on to hold the same title at Sonesta Resort in Hilton Head Island. Prior to re-joining Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Buleje served as executive chef at Cleveland’s Metropolitan at The 9, leading the culinary team and overseeing menu development.
A seasoned and cultured professional with more than a decade of fine dining and hospitality experience, Buleje draws upon his Peruvian, Guatemalan, and Mexican family background, Midwest upbringing and extensive world travels for menu inspiration.
“I’m always in search of new flavor profiles and culinary techniques,” says Buleje. “My travels, curiosity, and the all-star team at Grand Geneva are the inspiration for me to craft distinct, memorable dishes here in Lake Geneva. It’s important to me to have my hometown shine in the culinary scene.”
Buleje will helm the resort’s newest culinary initiatives including building the resort’s own custom dry-age box for its special whisky-aged rib steaks (one of the few kitchens in the U.S. to offer these steaks), and new pork nose-to-tail offerings using limited production Uplands Creamery heirloom hogs, which feed on whey from Upland’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese.
For many years throughout his career, Buleje worked with critically acclaimed Chef Robert Fedorko, who mentored him while Buleje was a young chef at Grand Geneva. Through the years, Buleje has consulted for and assisted Chef Fedorko with the launch of several successful culinary campaigns.
Buleje has received a number of culinary awards and accolades including winning Cleveland’s Iron Fork competition for two consecutive years and receiving first place in the Burger Battle at the Mid-America Restaurant Expo.