Executive Chef Charlotte dishes with grace at Graceland Hotel Casino and Country Club
04 April 2011
Executive Chef Charlotte Enslin feeds off the adrenalin rush she gets when cooking for hundreds of guests at Graceland Hotel Casino and Country Club in Secunda, Mpumalanga. She thrives on the large functions hosted at the complex and makes it her duty to serve guests delicious hearty food which she herself enjoys eating.
As a child, Enslin watched her mother cook with passion and entertain guests with flare which, along with influence from Sol Kerzner's business etiquette stirred up her desire to become a chef in the hospitality industry. She has worked at Graceland for nearly two years and still enjoys being mentored by Peermont's legendary Executive Chef Milton Romi-Babany. She enjoys cooking so much that she can't recall having ever made something too challenging at Graceland. "I wouldn't necessarily say that there is a certain dish that has been challenging to prepare, but serving 600 people fully plated meals for two nights in a row, and being eight months pregnant was quite hectic," she confess.
Enslin's motto in life ‘Confidence is Attractive' truly materialised when she boldly tackled a beef wellington for her first meeting with her in-laws. She had never made it before and cooked it from memory of how her executive chef used to make it. "This was my very first dish I made as a chef and it swept my special guests off their feet," she says with a smile.
When she is not in the kitchen cooking up a scrumptious meal for others she loves spending time with her family and eating her mother's delicious food. But when she is in her kitchen, she enjoys making her favourite dish of baked chicken in mayonnaise with apricot jam - a recipe taught to her by a friend and which is also one of Tata Madiba's favourite meals. While she has cooked for thousands of people in her lifetime and have received accolades from many, she would still love to cook and serve two people she deems extraordinary - her father who has passed and Apartheid activist Helen Suzman. "I would love to have cooked one great last meal for my father. He always appreciated anything I made him. Helen Suzman is an inspiration to me and she had great passion and drive," adds Enslin.
Her favourite dish to eat of all time is oxtail with banana on creamy mashed potato and lots of vegetables. She vows that her kitchen will never be without olive oil, plenty of garlic, smoked maldon sea salt, onions and tomatoes. "There are no recipe secrets in my kitchen, I believe all good recipes should be shared. I could give anyone a great recipe but it depends on how it is interpreted that makes it a success or not," she says. Amongst the many things that she has learned from working at Graceland Hotel Casino and Country Club, the one thing that stands out is her newfound knowledge in organization. "It is the first time that I am running so many outlets and it takes a lot of organization to get this right."
Although a true South African at heart, Enslin would love one day to eat chocolate nougat in Italy or return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and feel grounded amongst its humble residents.