We spoke to the recently appointed F&B manager at Hilton Abu Dhabi, Eugene Conradie, on his new role.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. After finishing school I wanted to travel, so I ended up joining Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, sailing out of the USA. It was an exciting experience that led to a stint in the UK and finally back to my home country to study hospitality management. Since then I have been fortunate to work and travel to many countries, with my latest assignment being with Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Nigeria before joining Hilton Abu Dhabi.
Describe your first ever role in the F&B industry.
I was 18 years young, just left school and got a job as a waiter in a local hotel in Cape Town. At the time, I had no idea what the industry was all about and I landed the job by good fortune, rather than planning. The team was absolutely amazing and in spite of long hours and hard work, I liked it so much that the experience set me on the path that brought me to where I am today.
Describe your current role and responsibilities.
I have the best job anyone could ask for in a hotel. Apart from the more obvious responsibilities of managing operations and commercial activity in all our outlets, I get to meet passionate foodies, chefs, and industry professionals while creating memorable experiences for our hotel guests.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
I have had the great fortune of working with some amazingly talented professionals in my career and the list of people who have inspired me along the way is quite long. I would give special mention to the very first executive chef I worked with, Patrick Docherty, who was a mentor and had endless passion for his craft.
How do you view the F&B scene in the region?
I think the UAE, in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is a very exciting place for the industry. There is tremendous amount of innovation in the region and we have a lot of well-travelled guests who expect the very best, which ensures that high standards are maintained.
What is the biggest challenge of your role?
Because of the diverse nature of my role, effective time management is crucial and a constant challenge.
What is the best aspect of your role?
The instant gratification of exceeding a guest’s expectations or creating a memory that will last a lifetime.
If you could work in any restaurant in the world which would it be?
Alinea in Chicago, USA would be amazing.
What tip would you share with new staff starting out in the F&B industry?
F&B, and hospitality as a whole, is one of the most rewarding careers anyone could wish for. It may be hard at the beginning, but it’s all worthwhile.
October 2012 – February 2014: Assistant F&B director, Hyatt Oubaai Resort, South Africa
March 2013 – October 2014: F&B director, Salalah Rotana Resort, Oman
November 2014 – March 2018: F&B manager, Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Nigeria