In the kitchen with Todd Kelly: Hilton Netherland Plaza chef is all in for perfection & progression

CINCINNATI - Todd Kelly may well be the bee whisperer among chefs in Cincinnati. He knows how to split a colony, understands how bees "beard" to keep cool in summer, and how they huddle into a ball to keep warm in winter. When the time is right, he doesn't hesitate to suit up and harvest the golden crop.

Kelly is Executive Chef, and Food and Beverage Director at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. When he's not busy winning accolades for the hotel's restaurant, bar and banquet operations--which incidentally, comes with a staff of 170--he dons his many other hats:  beekeeper, farmer, and even cheese maker.

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To be sure, Kelly is a prolific and accomplished chef; his string of awards and even a cookbook prove that. When he talks about food, it is as though his words are constantly playing catch-up with his racing creative energy. 

When Kelly was 12, his father wanted to "stop and smell the roses," so he picked up the whole family, and moved to the island of Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Originally from Long Island, New York, Kelly quickly found life on the island to be quite different. 

"You burned your trash, and fishermen walked through the back of your house to sell their catch," he said. 

Familiar American food like pizza, Oreo cookies and burgers were conspicuously absent, prompting Kelly to try his hand at cooking. 

WCPO Insiders can read how Kelly cooked his way through the ranks of fine cuisine, to land at one of Cincinnati's premier dining destinations. See his list of kitchen essentials and get his recipe for a favorite ravioli dish to cook at home.

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