An InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) employee has celebrated 40 years of service with the company, having worked across IHG’s Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands during his tenure.
69-year-old Joachim “Joe” Bittner, breakfast chef at Crowne Plaza Melbourne, recently celebrated his gold anniversary with IHG and received special letters of appreciation from Jan Smits, CEO, Asia, Middle East and Africa, IHG and Clarence Tan, CEO, Asia-Australia, IHG.
The resident from Mount Waverley in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and passionate art enthusiast, has done the breakfast shift (4:30am – 11:30am) Monday -Thursday at Crowne Plaza Melbourne for the last decade.
Joe Bittner started his career in the hospitality industry in March1972, working in Melbourne’s Travel Lodge as head chef for ten years before the building was fully refurbished into a high-rise apartment block.
He has worked in Melbourne for over forty years and during his career tenure has worked for various hotel chains including Travel Lodge, Centra, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza. Incredibly, during his forty year tenure with IHG, Joe has personally cooked or supervised meals for more than 2.5 million guests!
Joe, who has had on-the-job training since he commenced his career in the 70s, has done all jobs/roles in the kitchen, and specialises in cooking buffet meals.
Joe reflects on his most fond memory in his hospitality industry – he met his wife on the job whilst they were both working at Travel Lodge, Melbourne. His wife, 63-year-old Adrienne Bittner, was the front officer manager at the property in 1972, while Joe was head chef and after two years the couple married and held their reception at the hotel. On the menu was lobster mornay and steak and the small wedding party delighted in the hotel’s cheese selection.
In 1985, Joe’s wife Adrienne had her first of four children, and since then, Joe has just worked the breakfast shift so he can spend more time at home with his family.
The cold buffet and seafood specialist credits his 40 years’ service to IHG to working with “very nice colleagues” – people who “keep you happy in the job.” Over the years he’s counted his IHG colleagues – both past and present – as “more like family than associates” – and he’s kept in touch with many throughout his tenure.
One particular colleague Joe looked up to was former head chef of Travel Lodge, the now-retired Nick Klein. The pair worked together for 15 years and Joe credits Nick as his biggest career inspiration. Joe is also a big fan of local chef Jacques Raymond (of Cuisine de Temp fame) and Sydney’s Tetsuya Wakuda.
During his tenure at IHG, Joe credits some industry changes he’s witnessed over the years – the most obvious being the different nationalities of hotel guests staying in Melbourne. When Joe first started at IHG in the 1970s, the majority of guests were Japanese and American and nowadays the majority of guests stem from China and Thailand.
Despite pulling very early hours most of his week, Joe doesn’t consider this a drawback of the gig, thanks to his ‘well-adjusted body clock” seeing him through the 3am AEST wake-ups.
Joe will shortly turn 70 but has no plans to retire, confirming he still has “plenty of years left in the kitchen”.