What it’s like working as a chef in a hotel

Chefs can be found not only leading restaurants but operating their skills and talent in hotels, private homes and more. Eat Out sat down with Executive Chef of The Cellars-Hohenort & Spa and The Conservatory restaurant Tronette Dippenaar to find out the ins and out of working as a head chef at a hotel.

Located in the Mother City, The Cellars-Hohenort & Spa and The Conservatory is tucked away within the leafy suburb of Constantia. The grounds are known for their lush and thriving greenery with an accompanying restaurant that offers an eclectic menu featuring local and contemporary flavours.

Executive Chef Tronette Dippenaar started her career in 2003 and has worked within a hotel/lodge environment ever since.

What is the most memorable moment in your career as a hotel chef and why? 

There are many, but the one that keeps me both humble and proud is the positive impact I see on the lives of my staff, and the role I’m privileged to play in their growth as both individuals and as chefs. I have trained many students in my career and witnessing their success in becoming passionate and proud chefs is so rewarding.

How is working as a hotel chef different from working in a restaurant? 

Personally, I think a hotel chef has much more freedom! You never know what the day will bring and it keeps you on your toes. There is never a dull moment in a hotel kitchen because service never ends. Recipes are just guidelines and you have to cater to your guests’ needs. You build a relationship with your in-house guests when you interact with them regarding their food preferences.

What is the most difficult or challenging part of your job as a hotel chef? 

It is making sure you manage your time effectively. The whole-day service is exciting, but sometimes the day runs away with you. It’s a continuous challenge to make sure you get to everything you must do in a day.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a hotel chef? 

The most rewarding part is getting to know your regular guests and their preferences. When they return to the hotel and are excited to see you again and greet you like an old friend.

Are hotel chefs always on call? 

There is a structure and set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we are also very flexible. If there is a chef in the kitchen, food can be served.

What do you love about being a chef at a hotel? 

The flexibility you have with the menu and the interaction with the guests. It’s not just breakfast, lunch and dinner – there is so much more happening in-between. Pool service, high teas, conferencing, weddings, baby showers … the list goes on! It’s exciting and there is always something cooking in a hotel kitchen.

Do you have to train differently or go through specific training to work as a hotel chef? 

I do not think you need different training. If you have a passion for the industry and a love for cooking, you can be either a hotel chef or a chef in a restaurant.

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