I TURNED MY PASSION FOR COOKING INTO A THRIVING BUSINESS HOSTING VIP CLIENTS = JEAN WINTER FULL

I TURNED MY PASSION FOR COOKING INTO A THRIVING BUSINESS HOSTING VIP CLIENTS = JEAN WINTER FULL

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fast very excited to bring you today's  guest first of all i'd like to thank the   rove hotel in dubai marina for allowing me  to use their venue and their endless support   within the podcast so let's move on to today's  guest she moved to the uae in december 2016   and she's very quickly made a name for herself  as an entrepreneur in the food and beverage space   she is the owner of jean's private kitchen which  caters to international high profile clients all   around the world her clients include actresses  footballers diplomats and the united nations   so without further ado i'd like to welcome  jean winter to the podcast today thank you   zoe very happy to be here thank you for  thinking of me thank you for your time   um thanks for coming on gene so gene to kick  this off will you tell us a little bit more   about what you do well um it  started out as a passion project   in geneva 2010 i started gene's private  kitchen pretty much from my home space   and it quickly grew from a take away for my  clients in the un who wto and it pretty much   grew into a private kitchen where i started  hosting very private dinners in my home   initially it was an underground concept  where it was pretty much illegal i started it   for friends and friends of friends for security  reasons because my husband was freaking out that   i was getting strangers to a home  but somehow within 18 months it grew   to almost 700 people on my guest list and wait  list to come for dinner i hosted initially   when i started i said i would host one dinner a  week maximum and then the demand grew and grew   and somehow i've had to register myself as a  proper business by pretty much 18 months really   and i was doing a lot of catering as  well as private dinners from my home and   when we moved from geneva to hamburg that was when  i decided to brunch the business a bit further by   taking on bigger projects i'm agreeing  to do food shows international food   and doing my shows in representing singapore as  a food ambassador for our singaporean cuisine   which i think is very misunderstood and i used  my platform pretty much to explain about the   history of our country our cuisine our culture  through my business and in dubai because of hosting dinners and pretty much  the demand for hosting events   i've had to start well i have a consultancy  ongoing in singapore anyway because i have   international clients from singapore where i  advise on business business well if they want   to branch out of singapore i basically come in as  a business consultant on an international basis and in dubai i pretty much had to open another  business which was an events management company   to also handle the event side of things  on top of the well the private dinners   i just want to touch on what you said  earlier about it being a passion project   is it still you know now that you've  developed developed it further   into a business are you still as passionate  about it as you were back then oh yes um   it has always been a passion project and  it remains one and i think i'm very blessed   because many people don't have a choice when  they work because they need the money whereas   for me i am blessed in the sense that i choose  my clients and i choose who i want to work with   because for me work remains a passion it has  to it has to i don't have a choice because   with businesses running in several countries and  different continents at the same time if it's   not a passion project it's going to drag you down  very fast you're going to burn out whereas for me   in terms of cross-cultural as  well as cross-continental work   it has to excite me and that's why i'm very picky  about my clients who i work with who i work for i think in terms of reputation i've  got quite a reputation for turning up   turning down jobs as opposed to accepting  whatever comes my way i'm extremely picky   about who i work with because for me our values  have to coincide and my business values as well   has to be in line with the project or the event  that i take on because i don't want to have at   any one point any clashes with my personal values  or what i see as important values for my business   in terms of ethics in terms of beliefs yeah  so it remains a passion project till today   because i'm working with people i love i'm working  with companies i believe in i am very positive in   terms of my working relationship because for  me it's not just one event but a long ongoing   business as well as uh emotional relationship  yeah yeah it's interesting what you say about the   fact that you can pick and choose um and we were  talking earlier about kind of entrepreneurship   and mental health and and how i found doing these  podcasts that seems to be like a correlation   and i guess when you say that you're in  the position to be able to pick and choose   that puts you in quite a good position really  because a lot of entrepreneurs out there   aren't you know that you know they need  that money coming in so maybe you know   they would just take any job you know just for the  money so you know in many ways i guess um you're   in quite a good position there yeah i i i'm always  very thankful for the position i'm in because   um i'm able to build a reputation  in the industry because of this very   fact that people know that if i pick a project  and if i decide to work with you on a project you have 100 of me in it and it doesn't help  it doesn't help that i'm a bit of ocd and i'm a   perfectionist so i think it all complements um in  you know it all it comes in a nice package i guess   where you have someone that is fully involved and  fully invested in a project because she chose to   do it not because she has to yeah how does it feel  to have carved out a career doing what you love i am always very careful to remind myself that  i am in a position where i am   because it is a blessing um i don't  take it for granted because if i do lose   everything tomorrow nothing changes because  um it started out as a passion where i   started from scratch and it would not affect  me because you start again so i know catering   is such a challenging like my family have been in  catering for many years my grandparents my mum and   my sister she traveled and she lived in argentina  so what she's done she recently well recently she   moved back to the uk many years ago and she now  lives in hastings and she's set up her own um   it's called penelope's pit stop and yeah and  it's basically um kind of argentinian street   food like um i don't know if it's street food  but argentinian food and she goes to like the   festivals and all the farmers markets and i went  to see her and oh my god like i didn't appreciate   i mean i just respected so much what she did when  i actually saw her you know just you know because   she she pretty much she has people working for  her but you know she just all the heavy lifting   the setting up the preparation everything that  goes into it and i just thought oh my god like   you know i just thought i couldn't do what you're  doing right now um and that's why this is where   passion comes in again because if you're not  interested in what you're doing then it becomes   pretty much a troll and this applies to  any occupation any professional work you do   but i have to say that in dubai i'm again  very very selective about who i cook for   but most of my job here is consultancy as  well as event management at a bigger level so   yeah you moved to the uae from singapore what  was from so i moved um to the uae from hamburg   i'm originally from singapore but in the past  14 years we have moved from italy um to france   because my husband was working in geneva  at that time my clients were in geneva   then we moved to germany hamburg  before moving to dubai so okay   what were the challenges that you've faced  transferring your business from hamburg   to dubai and having to build up a new  book of clients and establish yourself   as an expert in your field here because i guess  in many ways yeah you've got your resume you've   got your cv and they can see what you've  done but in terms of networking and and   establishing relationships and connections you're  starting from refresh uh yes and no i think i'm   again very very lucky because um before each move  to whichever country you've moved to uh friends or   clients have already talked about me before i've  arrived so upon arriving usually i get the contact   for work even before i'm even set up so people  pretty much know i've arrived within my niche   market even before i've actually set up so i get  emails or calls saying hey we heard that you have   been here someone told us you're here now can  you do this so in fact that was actually the incentive to start the business in dubai i had  wanted to take one year off work because i was   extremely involved with work as well as the  refugee effort in hamburg for one whole year   and um i wanted to take one one year off and  just not work and enjoy and settle into dubai   so when we arrived christmas 2016 i got  my first call in january and february   so i had by that time four or five calls asking  me to start work for events and i have to say   look guys i can't because i'm not even registered  yet but because of that push i somehow my husband   laughed at me he was like let's see how long it  can last without working and yeah so i started the   business because of demand rather than the need  to again and yeah that was pretty much my push   in dubai and in every country because again  when i arrived in hamburg i got the call   calls to start work to do international work even  before i settled down in dubai as you remember my   my we were still in boxes we haven't even unpacked  the boxes and um i was asked to do a show in paris   uh and it was actually my husband that say you  know what you should just do it we will nothing   nothing's gonna go wrong um you should just do it  so i'm again very very blessed because i also have   a very supportive husband so he's the one pushing  me to accept a lot of jobs when i'm the one saying   you know what i need a break after this project i  don't want to work for a few months and every time   a new project comes up it's my husband that says  you know what you can do this we are okay without   you for a while or we can manage this we  can handle this um the move can wait or the   boxes can be ready to be you know to be open  after you come back so uh yeah it was a very   for me it's um i've been very very lucky in terms  of my networking because my network is pretty much   international so before i even land  wherever we have been posted to   people already know i was arriving before i i even  arrived so that's i guess uh an advantage you call   it yeah i see yeah definitely so you're a mom  too yes i'm up to two gorgeous girls 10 and 13. and that is also why i love doing what i do  because being a business owner it gives me   a leverage to focus on what i think is  important because at the end of the day   i still want to be a good wife and a mom to my  two kids and that's why a lot of people ask me   gene why have you not hired a driver yet  because you are constantly running around   handling so many events at one time different  projects different meetings but i always say i   know that the day i hire a driver i will lose my  whatever little time i have left with my girls because during our drives that's our very  that's my precious time with them because   i'll drive to school to drive back  home sending them for swim trainings   when they actually tell me about their day their  friends interesting things that happen in school   new friends that they've made so these are  all things that i don't really want to lose interestingly i think it was quite recent that  my husband and i were discussing having to um hire a driver at one point because my  daughters are swimmers in different swim squads   and at different times so that's pushing it a bit   my husband he so he's a director of a shipping  company he's sometimes he he travels as well so we   we make sure that we travel at different times so  that there's always one parent home for the girls and it's also challenging because he's training  for example now he's training for the world   championships iron man and um he's awake at  four or five in the morning sometimes and he   finishes his own training at 7 38. so obviously  i have to be the one chauffeuring the kids around   but when we have events this is when we rely  pretty much on our very lovely house help i um   well i don't ever call her mate i always call her  my my home manager because she then has to take   the girls um you know on their school runs but  um yeah that was going to be one of my questions   what is the challenges of running a business and  having a family i think you've just answered yeah yeah it's all about priorities because for me   the business will only be successful if you have  a happy family so this is something when i brought   when i was brought up because my dad he was the  vice president of bank of america and he always   taught us that the work-life  balance has to be very very um it's very important because as long as you get  your priorities wrong that's when things go bad   and i remember growing up no matter how busy my  dad was he's home for dinner every day at seven   o'clock and he would send his general managers  out to entertain but he'd always be home for us   at seven no matter one and weekends were always  family days and this is something that i've   andrew and i have said was very important  that we sat down for dinner no matter how   busy we all are at the end of each day yeah  that's amazing i haven't worked in finance myself   and knowing the amount of entertaining  that goes on for a vice president you know   to be home every single night at seven o'clock  i was doing quite a that was a commitment it   it's definitely a choice over anything else and  i think this has pretty much carried over to how   it is in our family as well  that um if we have a choice   we'd always pick having a family dinner sitting  down over an event so whenever i'm out for   work the girls know that i have to be there  because i'm actually running the event as host   so i can't not be there but if i have a choice to  do it any other way i'll be home and that's why   it's also i'm also very picky about  the events i attend because i will   attend events where i know i have to be there  but given a choice if i turn an event down it's   because i haven't seen the kids enough or that  is the day my husband gets back from his travels   yeah it's all choice i think it boils  down to uh priorities and nowadays   i think um like i said my dad's best advice  was pretty much if you get your work life   balance right and you always put god and family  in front in front everything will fall in place   and this is what my parents brought me up with  and i see it carrying over to our own family   and how we run it till today so  if i have to turn down a business   proposition because i know that it's gonna take me  out then i wouldn't take it usually yeah thank you gene do you feel like the uae encourages and  offers enough sport uh support for female   entrepreneurs is is it something that you found a  challenge when you were setting up your company or um yes and no um the initial uh problems  or frustrations i would say not problems   frustrations i got arriving in uae was  pretty much for example setting up my   business account and my husband had to be there  because he he's the sponsor main sponsor to   the family arriving in uae and i remember having  to ask him what do you have to beat them when   i'm setting up my business account and he's  like i know and we just couldn't understand it   and when we went to the bank and we were  opening up our account andrew had to sign   a noc letter for me and that really  frustrated me as a i guess i'm pretty much   a modern day independent woman and i'm like hey  wait a minute why do you have to give me you know   an acknowledgement or to or a go  ahead for me to open my business and i think my frustration in the i can remember  very clearly one incident where we sat down and   we asked for um credit cards for joint account  family account and the guy that was at the bank   basically asked and i was sitting in front of him  and he asked my husband not looking at me saying   are you sure he wanna give her access to the  accounts and my husband and i were like wait what   yeah it's our joint account what are you talking  about so for us i think coming from europe   and coming from a very modern society like  singapore totally blew my mind and i remembered   i was getting all edgy and annoyed and andrew  had to put his hand on my lap to calm me down   this was the initial frustrations i would say um  what would be not so much female but entrepreneurs   as a whole i think the setup costs are very  expensive and i yeah but that's something that a   lot of people are i mean they seem to be getting a  lot more and more expensive yes because look i've   started businesses in five countries um licenses  are always so easily available to encourage   business entrepreneurship be it or not you're  local or an international or expert business owner   i'll just take singapore for example you get a  business license for two hundred dollars sync   and it's ongoing you don't have to repay  you don't have to you know pay for a new   license every single year whereas um in uae we are  pretty much coughing up at least seven times more   per year every single year to run a business  and that's for just one business so assuming   i have two different businesses or two  different offerings a consultancy and   an events management company i have to i have  to double that as well every single year it's   absolutely crazy it's in the uk what you'd set  up for a limited company for peanuts yeah um   yeah i find it quite contradictory in a place  that encourages kind of forward thinking and   entrepreneurship and that is evolving and  you know moving at a really really fast pace   but these challenges that are put in place  um because i guess you know there's so many   small businesses out there that just are  struggling except they're not able to   i realized that when after i arrived in dubai  i know that a lot of female entrepreneurs were they were put off by the cost of  the setup and that's why a lot of   people were setting up their businesses  online as well as on a private level   where they are not licensed and i think it was  last year was am i right last year where they   zoomed in and came down quite hard  the government came down quite hard on freelance work and people working without license  but i think this is not just um tying back to your   previous question it's not a problem for  females but in general entrepreneurs as a   whole however the pre the women are affected  more because a lot of women are here because   of their husbands not because of the other way  around i'm sure that there are many instances of   women who are here because of their work and men  have their husbands followed too but the women are   more affected because a lot of the wives follow  their husbands and are unreal either unwilling   or unable to cough up such a big amount to restart  their business especially if they don't have the   existing networks so for them to have to restart  the network restart the business from scratch   it is too much of a risk to take because even  before you earn back that initial amount you   have to cough up the next year again and  the initial business license start from   anywhere between 28 to 38 000 germs a year every  year and that is pretty much a a huge put off for   a lot of female entrepreneurs because when dubai  so out of 12 months three months a year we are   not even around from holidays to summers so they  pretty much have nine months to ten months to make   that money back plus profits to make it even worth  you know their while so i think that's what puts   a lot of women on the back foot even before  they even start yeah i agree totally thank you   i always like to ask my guests  about their morning routine   for me my morning routine is so so important  if i'm going to have a productive happy day   do you have a specific routine that you do on a  morning oh man our family is boring because our   routine is pretty much standard every single day  um we wake up at six um andrew would go and show   that the girls are awake he's more of a morning  person than me so he goes down with the girls he   spends he sits down for breakfast with the girls  if he's training he would somehow make it back   in time just to catch them before school and then  lani our my house manager would uh pretty much um   make sure that the girls have breakfast i  come down at 6 40 very precise i come down   but between 6 40 and 6 45 to make sure that that  the girls have really eaten to tie my girl's hair   it's nice i mean the girls are 10 and 13 and  if they still enjoy having mommy tie their hair   simple things like this i think i should  appreciate it and enjoy it while it lasts so   you know we come down for my coffee tie the hair  chat a little we are out of the house by 6 55.   i don't leave the house anything later  than seven and that's a late day because   then i'll be caught in traffic so  i dropped them in school by 7 15   and then i rush off to my gym so i go to  um in a fight at by 7 30 and do an hour   of exercise i finish at 8 30 go home shower  change and then my day starts so that's my   morning routine every single day you train it in a  fight every morning yes wow that's amazing that's   fantastic commitment yeah but um you know i think  that pretty much wakes you up and starts you off   well for the day because if i  don't get one hour of exercise   time or that's what i call my meat my time  a day you pretty much feel so sluggish   it pretty much sets you off on the right  uh first yeah i totally agree i like to   do exercise every day um even if it's just like 20  minutes of kundalini yoga like doing my breathing   um i used to do i mean i ran this morning i did  some um interval training i'll tell you what i   always start the day with ice on my face nice  yeah and i've also started having cold showers   as well the ice is easier than the cold showers  but i'll drink water and then i put ice cubes on   my face it's like i don't normally drink tea very  rarely drink tea or coffee so and i feel it's just   just kind of makes you feel invigorated it's also  supposed to be really good for the skin as well   um but yeah yeah i think i've kind of slowed  down more and rather than do like my intense   exercise on a morning like i used to sometimes  like i'm just happy if i just get a little bit   of yoga in but as long as i do something you  know just to kind of balance the energy and   you know keep the mind sane so gene the  theme of all my podcasts is mental health   and i'm finding that the more i speak to  people especially entrepreneurs it seems to be   a correlation between entrepreneurship and mental  health problems do you agree with that and and   have you had any challenges along the way with  your own mental health in terms of setting up   your own business or just in general um i think  this ties back to how i was brought up again   mom and dad uh brought us up me and my  brother uh with the mindset that failure is   a stepping stone to success i remembered  that was my first 8 out of 10 of which was my choice of composition for  primary school where even at a young age   it was ingrained in us that failures are  fine because that will only make you stronger and i think it's quite interesting because i never i'm someone  where i don't get affected by something that goes   wrong because i'm a problem solver rather than a  warrior i don't waste time worrying i don't have   time to worry so if there's a problem you  solve it so if there's a problem you find   ways of going around it so i'm very practical  i think i'm a very practical person in terms of as a woman as well as an entrepreneur  business owner and i think that helps because i'm whichever country that i've been  to whichever business i want to set up   my mindset is just go for it because if it  works then it's meant to be if it doesn't work   it's not happened yet it doesn't work part but  i think again because of the mindset i don't let   anything affect me negatively because if i preempt  a lot of problems so when you before i even start   up a business i look at what possible problems  there are first and i clear those problems   away before i even start a business so because  i'm so practical i pretty much try to preempt   issues and then i go for it which then also helps  in terms of failure and in terms of mental health   i'm actually quite a happy person i'm i don't  know i'm always happy so even in the gym   i'm always laughing and you know smiling  with my clients with my business associates yeah i don't think i've ever been like  depressed or upset of course everyone   has stresses in their life um everyone has  high points low points stressful moments   but if you take those stressful moments with  a positive pinch of salt everything's fine   and okay i'm one of those crazy people  that thrive on stress so when things are   highly stressful or when things  need to be then you just you just   deal with it so thank you it's interesting what  you said earlier about um taking action um a lot i   i think where a lot of people struggle with mental  health and me in particular as well i guess i'm   speaking from is is actually you know you know  we have all these ideas and we don't take action   but you said yourself that you know you've always  executed on your kind of on what you want to do   and and as a result of that you've never failed  um and i think that would that's probably a really   good lesson for a lot of people you know because  okay they're maybe not going to be successful with   everything but you know there's probably a good  chance that they will be they just need to execute   and take action don't think and stay at thinking  do it so that's why i always tell the kids as well   don't think i mean everyone thinks but it's the  doing and then if you fail then just try again   there's no harm or embarrassment to it if you  feel you would still be the same and this would   be just as easy if you didn't have the support  of your husband and your family around you no   i'll be a different person i think the the family  environment um that you grew up in uh and i think your family environment like for me my parents are  such a huge source of inspiration and they are my   role models because look my parents are 71 and 75  this year they are still doing voluntary work they   are still taking all people out um it's like when  i call them yeah it's like when i called them i   was like what are you doing today oh we are taking  old people out i was like well older than you   and they said yeah until we stop being able  to walk we can still help people we can still   keep motivating people and they spend um their  retirees now but they spend i would say four   out of five days of their of their days now um out  having meetings bringing doing charity work doing   um church work helping people in the community  so i grew up with those kind of parents   where they don't stop doing till now and then my  husband is so supportive i mean i love him too   [ __ ] because he is so supportive i'll never  be where i am today if not for him because he's   always the one telling me you know um you  have so much potential but you don't see it   and i was like it's not that i don't see it i  i'm not that career driven to the point that i'll   you know he keeps saying oh why don't you take  the business one step further and i'm like   because no no because i'm happy where i am  and if the business comes my way for example   every project that becomes bigger and bigger  i take it because i see it as a blessing   and not a given um i now take it on if i think  it will not um take away from family and if   and yes so back to your question um without my  family my the mindset of my parents how they   brought us up the beliefs the morals the values  that they've instilled in us the supportive nature   of my husband how he believes in me and how you  know how we are able to work such that both of us   still have our own time our family time and  time for careers i think um is pretty much   the backbone of my success story of what many  people see as a success story but for me it's not   it's just my story everyone has their own success  stories thank you last question we've actually   been talking for almost 40 minutes no way i know  doesn't time fly when you're having fun so um   yeah my last question it's kind of you've spoken a  lot about your parents and the influence that they   had on you growing up and so who would you say was  that you know your the biggest teacher to you was   it your mom or your dad both so i come from a very  close-knit family mom dad my baby brother myself   we've always leaned on both my parents for advice  i mean i was back from singapore recently i just   got back two days ago on a work trip well it was  supposed to be a holiday but i ended up being a   work trip um i came home from work one night  that's a classic case where i came home one well   from work at 11 pm and i literally said mom  dad come into the room they got into bed and i   i jumped into bed with them i'm 43 this year and  i still jump into bed with them and talked about   my work day because that's what our family unit is  because i treasure the advice i want them to hear   what has gone on with my work if i have any  frustrations i tell my husband and my parents so if you're asking me to pick one inspiration  it's very difficult because mom and dad   offers very very they always advise on a  very united front on family issues when   it comes to business my mom is usually more  emotional whereas my dad is more practical my dad would always be the one giving financial  advice whereas my mom would always be giving   more emotional advice but they will always  be listening to me at the same time i always   talk to them at the same time and even if i call  home from dubai just to chat with them i'll make   sure that both of them are on speaker before  i start talking about my day because i always   make sure that both of them are listening growing  up they were both very very involved in our lives   and as you remember our dinner times were very  very important because that was when we talk about   our days as well and that's when they both advise  at the same time so growing up they've both given a hundred percent of their time and  their love to both myself and my brother   um and i would say that my brother and myself  we are products of our parents and very proud   to be because they're very very good inspirational  and very you know motivational in their own ways   and um they are pretty much leaders within  their own communities because of what they do   without having to talk a lot about it and  i think that's ironic because recently i um   not ironic that's the wrong use of word i would  say that they don't talk about what they do   and my brother and myself we too don't really  talk about our work much to anyone else   unless we are asked about it so recently at a  project a big government project that i'm doing   they asked me for my website i said i don't  have a website i still don't have a website   till today so they ask so how do people find  out about you and i said by word of mouth   it's always been and you probably always will be  because if i believe that if you're good at what   you do people will seek you out you don't have  to talk about yourself people will come to you   and the right ones will come to you thank  you oh thank you so much for your time today   and i'd like to thank everyone that has tuned in  to listen to this podcast your support means a lot   if you're listening on itunes please subscribe  and leave a review because this helps the podcast   become visible and enables us to reach a  wider audience and again i'd like to thank   rogue hotel for allowing us to record the  podcast in their amazing venue thank you thank you so much maybe

2021-01-19 13:47

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