Clinton Engelbrecht – FGM

Clinton Engelbrecht and co-workers

Clinton Engelbrecht
Head Chef
Al Hamra Golf Club, UAE

How do you create work\life balance between your career in the F&B industry and family life?

Creating work-life balance between a career in F&B and Family can be challenging, but with some planning and prioritization, it is possible to find a balance.

Establishing clear boundaries to myself between work and personal life. Defining specific times for work and family commitments, trying to stick to them as much as possible. I try to avoid bringing work related stress or tasks into family time.

Allocating dedicated time for my family and making it a priority, family feast night and other family activities.

Also, I think it is important to recognize that achieving a work-life balance is an ongoing process that requires flexibility and adaptability. Embracing changes and being willing to adjust my routines or plans when necessary to accommodate both work and family needs.

What is the best part about your job?

There are a lot of aspects I find fulfilling about my job as a chef:

Making People Happy, one of the joys of being a chef for me is seeing the satisfaction and pleasure on people’s faces when they taste and enjoy your food. Preparing delicious meals and creating memorable dining experiences for others can be immensely gratifying.

Constant learning and growth, the culinary world is diverse and ever evolving. As a chef, I have the opportunity to continuously learn new cooking techniques, explore different cuisines and stay updated with food trends. This constant learning and growth can keep my job exciting and intellectually stimulating.

Being a chef allows me to express my creativity through the creation of unique dishes, combining flavors, experimenting with new ingredients, and cooking techniques. The ability to bring my culinary vision to life is incredibly rewarding. These are just a few of many things that I like about my job.

Who inspired your career path?

From a young age I always had an interest in cooking and baking, helping my mother in the kitchen or trying different recipes.  But it was at the age of 16 when a friend and I got a temporary job to earn some extra cash during the school holidays at a local restaurant helping with basic mise en place when I realized I want to become a chef. I enjoyed every second in the kitchen learning different techniques, the rush of a busy service, the energy is just so different in a kitchen. After I finished high school, I went to The Culinary Academy in Cape Town South Africa where I got my Food and Wine Diploma.

What’s your favorite recipe you have inherited from your family?

There are many recipes I have inherited from my family a lot of these recipes I use often at home trying to improve them in any way I can but there is one recipe I got from my from my mother that will always remain the same as this recipe does not need any improvements in my opinion, the dish is a South African potjie.  A potjie translates to pot food, similar to a stew it consists of meat and vegetables but traditionally cooked in a cast iron pot over an open flame outdoors, it sounds easy and basic but part of the challenge is controlling the heat by adding or removing heat while it is cooking, a potjie can take up to 6 hours to cook. There are a lot of different potjie recipes with different cuts of meat, beef, chicken, seafood, but the recipe I am referring to is an oxtail and Banana Potjie. Yes I know, that may sound weird, but trust me this dish never fails.

How do you and your family enjoy food together?

Once a week, usually every Tuesday evening, I take the family to a restaurant for dinner. We try to go to different venues every week and call it FAMILY FEAST NIGHT. Most other days Jocelyn (The Mrs.) will cook at home, if the weather is nice on a Sunday evening we will go to the beach near home and have a family evening with a BBQ .

What can’t you live without in the kitchen?

I think everyone would agree that one of the most important ingredients is SALT.

Salt is an essential ingredient in cooking as it enhances and balances the flavors of other ingredients. It brings out the natural taste of food, adds depth and complexity. Chefs use salt not only to season their dishes but also to control the level of seasoning throughout the cooking process. It is considered a fundamental ingredient that plays a crucial role in creating delicious and well-balanced culinary creations, for both savory and sweet.

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