Wilhelm Coln Obituary (1940 – 2022) – Slidell, LA


Wilhelm “Willy” Coln passed away peacefully August 19, 2022 in Slidell, Louisiana. Willy was preceded in death by his parents, Josef and Elizabeth Coln of Cologne, Germany and his sister Liesel (Heinz) Coln Berns, also of Cologne. He survived by his wife, Paulette; son, Eric (Stephanie) Coln; granddaughters, Paige and Reese; sister, Annegret (Fred) Coln Kau; stepson, Joseph (Leanna) Smith and their children Baylor, Leah, and Zander; stepson, Michael (Veronica) Smith and their children Ethan and Natalie; nephew, Michael Kau; extended family in Germany; and countless friends. Willy was born January 14, 1940 in Cologne, Germany, at the beginning of WWII. At 14, he attended Hotel Restaurant School. He served as a chef apprentice in the Rasthaus Hotel and the Restaurant at Hotel Whalfish in Cologne before moving to Zurich, Switzerland in 1958, where he became the Commis de Cuisine at the St. Godart Hotel followed by the Hotel Rigihof. In 1961, he spent a year as Chef with Holland America Cruises and made two around the world trips. From 1962-63, Willy spent time in Isle of Man as Chef de Cuisine and as Head Butcher and Garde Manager at the Savoie Hotel in England. In 1964, Willy moved to the United States. He worked at various Hotel Corporation of America properties as Chef Saucier, Garde Manager, Sous Chef, and Executive Chef. His career with them took him to Connecticut, New Orleans, Savannah, and Key Biscayne, Florida. In 1972, Willy moved back to New Orleans to assume the Executive Chef position for the newly opened Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. In 1976, he opened his own restaurant – Willy Coln’s Chalet. In its 14 years, the restaurant received numerous national and international awards and had wonderful and loyal patrons. Willy spent the last 15 years of his storied career as Executive Chef of the Veranda at the New Orleans Intercontinental Hotel, retiring two months before Hurricane Katrina. He was a proud mentor to many great Chefs who became cherished and lifelong friends. In 1979, a television crew was recording the New Orleans Chefs’ Charity for Children event benefitting St. Michael Special School when they met Willy and 12 other prominent Chefs. From this meeting, the 13-part PBS series Great Chefs of New Orleans was born. Willy spent many years volunteering for the St. Michael Chef’s Charity event and was a special honoree at the 40th anniversary in 2017. Today, you can find nods to Chef Coln and his recipes in cookbooks and online. While we honor an extraordinary career, Willy was happiest on the water. He was an avid sailor and spent as much time as possible enjoying his boats and fishing. He also loved reading, caring for his various pets, international travel, history, photography, shooting sports, fine food and drink, good German beer, NFL football, world soccer, lunching with friends in the city, and sharing stories with family and dear friends over a many a nightcap at home. He touched the lives of many and will be dearly missed. A private family service was held at Willy’s request. A celebration of his life will be planned for friends at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the Coln family requests that a donation be made to the Northshore Humane Society. Memories and condolences may be expressed at www.AudubonFuneralHome.com.

Published by The Times-Picayune from Aug. 26 to Aug. 27, 2022.

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