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EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: STEVEN CLARK

Wednesday 9 December, 2020

Recently awarded 2020 Chef of the Year at the Restaurant and Catering Awards in SA, Steven Clark knows his way around a kitchen. As Executive Chef at the National Wine Centre, Steven creates all of the function menus, wine dinners and events held at the Centre, as well as mentoring and running his award winning kitchen team.

How long have you been a chef and how long have you been at NWC?
I have been a chef for 25 years, nearly 6 of those working at the National Wine Centre.

What inspired you to become a chef?
When I was 8 years of age, my uncle who was a chef came back from overseas and told me all about his adventures working abroad. He told me how he got to stay up late, sleep in and travel the world and from that moment I knew that was the career for me!

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work each morning?
After I have my morning coffee and say hello to the team, I check to make sure all the produce has been delivered ready for the day to begin.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Definitely watching my team grow in terms of their skills, their confidence and abilities and progress throughout their career. I have had some of my team compete in high level cooking competitions and it fills me with such pride to see them produce high level dishes, compete against the best and hold their own.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the hospitality industry during your career?
There are a lot more dietary requirements than there used to be, with intolerances being a lot more common these days. With the evolution of social media, people are taking more photographs of their food, there is greater diversity in the kinds of ingredients we can use and a broader acceptance of food from different cultures. The likes of Masterchef have also opened minds and taste buds to eating creatively and trying new things.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned on the job?
Patience. A big part of my role is finding different ways to teach as everyone has a different way of learning.

What is your favourite thing to make in the kitchen and who do you like to cook for?
I love to make a mess in the kitchen (as long as someone else is cleaning it up) and I love cooking for my mum and my wife.