A thriving career, cooking up a storm where ever she goes (literally), playing the most important role of her life as “wife-mum”, Founder of Jean’s Private Kitchen, we talk to Jean Winter about how she does it all.
From dishing out delicious and healthy meals for her VIP clients to applying pearls of wisdom learnt from her parents in her everyday life, Jean Winter dives straight into #realtalk when it comes to what she’s passionate about. Having started as Geneva’s first underground dining concept from her home to catering to clients from UN/WHO/WTO/Footballers/VIPs in the Geneva region, to growing her business to France, Hamburg, Singapore and now Dubai, Jean – mama to two beautiful girls, Tegan and Kiera, shares her recipe on how she launched her company, and tells us fun anecdotes and challenges about being a expat mama.
Read on for some major motivation and inspo, mamas, from Jean’s tips on finding time to work out when you’re juggling one too many things, to some fab advice on keeping the romance alive even when you’re knee-deep in work and sharing some cheeky ways in which she manages to make time for her family.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I am a very proud mama to two beautiful girls (Tegan 9 and Keira 12) and wife to my amazing husband and father of my daughters, Andrew.
I started Jean’s Private Kitchen as Geneva’s first underground dining concept in my home catering to mostly clients from UN/WHO/WTO/Footballers/VIPs in the Geneva region. I relied purely on word of mouth with no advertising whatsoever and only people who knew someone who knew me could book me. I have remained pretty much the same today. I started by telling seven friends in Geneva and in two and half years, built up a clientele base of more than 700 private clients in Geneva alone.
The business then grew to France, Hamburg, Singapore and now to Dubai. Funny thing is… till today, only the people who know me knows what I do and that I exist. It keeps it fun that way… and because I see my job pretty much as a passion as opposed to a career… I get the luxury to choose my clients, who I work with and which projects to work with.
“Jean’s Private Kitchen and Consultancy LLC” is my baby. I am still a Private Chef to my private clients around the world, Food Consultant to our Singapore Embassy & Consulate UAE, to more than 20 businesses worldwide and I host very private VIP and ambassadorial events in UAE.
A year after we moved to Dubai, Dean Henry (Owner of The Clean Living Company) and I had a chance meeting and we somehow clicked on the business front. We went into partnership and decided to start Dubai’s first ever organic noodle soup delivery business. We both felt that there is a genuine lack of healthy, organic and tasty food being offered on the delivery platforms in Dubai. We saw a gap in the market for healthy, delicious but 100% organic noodle soups and stir fried rice and noodle dishes. I launched the organic noodle/rice business 2.5 months ago along with The Clean Living Company and have been blessed with great reviews from our customers. This is my new baby and I can’t wait to share with Dubai our organic range of dishes. Currently we are working with all the major delivery platforms like Eat Clean Me, Deliveroo, Ubereats, Talabat, Zomato and Careem Foods. This project is keeping me on my toes on top of all my other projects running concurrently.
My biggest career role is still being a good mama and wife to my family.
Tell us a little about your husband and kids
Andrew is the Director of a British-owned shipping company and was sent to Dubai to Head the Middle Eastern and West Asia Hub, heading 12 countries. He is a triathlete and takes part in Ironman events around the world. My only requirement as a supportive ‘tri-wife’ is that he chooses events in different countries every year so that the girls and I get to experience different cultures whilst traveling to support him for his races.
My girls Keira and Teggy are very much the typical expat kids. They were both born in Italy, grew up in Geneva, went to school in France, Germany and now Dubai. They get to go back to the UK and Singapore every year to visit family and friends. They both love Dubai, love school and are swimmers in the junior and senior squads of their Swimming Club. They have been blessed with very good friends who are all lovely, beautiful and kind kids. Having found their good friends, amazing classmates, a very close-knit swim team, inspiring swim coaches and wonderful school teachers definitely played a massive role in helping our girls settle in almost immediately.
Where do you live in Dubai?
Jumeirah Park … after visiting 48 villas all over Dubai, we chose this beautiful community because of the presence of greenery, proximity to our girls school and the layout of the villa.
Describe yourself in 5 words
Loving, Honest, Faithful, Emphatetic, Objective
For Fun, I asked my family’s for their five description of me:
Loving, Passionate, Unwelding, Kind, Generous
How do you balance work and motherhood?
With a lot of careful planning and proper time management. An example, our family has fought against hiring a driver even though we probably desperately need one. This is because we know that the moment that happens, we will lose that precious time with our girls… we chat about their friends, school, swimming and thoughts during our drives. And if I have an event, Andrew tries to step in to help me with one of the pickups.
We are also blessed with good friends who help out in terms of picking up our girls from school when their kids have swim trainings at the same location.
Most of my consultancy work / hosting private luncheons / cooking classes are done in the day. My girls train everyday after school which gives me a clear schedule of 8-5pm daily to work. I normally accept hosting or attending one (maximum three) events at nights to ensure that I have at least 4-5 nights a week with the family.
We get home at about 7.45pm every evening after we pick the girls from swim training. We ALWAYS have dinner together as a family (our live-in helper, Lanie also joins us at the table every night) before the girls head to bed by 8.30pm. We always cuddle and tuck them in… followed by our own time alone from 9pm onwards.
My husband and I try to have a date night once every 2 weeks.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
Multitasking is a must. Always plan ahead and try to run all the errands at one go. I do one massive grocery shopping once a week and discuss the lunch box/dinner menu with my maid every evening for the next day.
My husband is usually asleep by 10-10.30pm so I answer all my emails/outstanding paperwork/answering all my outstanding WhatsApp messages with friends from around the world from 10.30 onwards 🙂
Describe your average day
5.50am: Wakeup call by Andrew and girls jump into our bed for their morning cuddle
6.15am: Girls get washed, changed and head downstairs for breakfast
6.50am: Leave the house for our school run
7.15am: I head to the gym
8.30-10: Head home, shower and change and head to work
5.30pm: Pick up Teggy from swim training at Jumeira
7.15pm: pick up Keira from Swim Training at WIS
7.45pm: Reach Home
7.45-8.30pm: Dinner with the family
8.30-9pm: Cuddle and tuck girls in
9-10: Time with the hubs catching up and watching the news
10pm onwards: Me time to finish up work/emails/WhatsApp’s
(Once a week when I host ambassadorial or VIP dinners, I get home at 2-2.30am in the mornings by the time I drive home from Abu Dhabi)
* I meet friends once a week
* Andrew and I try to have a date night once every fortnight
If you were stranded on a desert island – which 3 children’s items would you not be able to live without?
- A box of pencils
- A stack of paper (my kids – they draw a lot in their free time)
- Harry Potter series
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
We do not have ONE favourite activity but these are our favourite things to do:
- Spending time at home together with the family watching movies in the weekends because of our hectic daily schedule.
- Inviting friends over… which we do quite a lot
- Going to church followed by trying out a new restaurant for lunch every Friday
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
Read more: Common Grounds: Doing it for the Kids
Dream family vacation?
We love going to exotic places where we can chill, swim, surf, dive and eat good local fare!
Favourite date-night restaurants?
We frequent these restaurants on our date nights… we are boring that way and tend to be regulars at our fav haunts:
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
I was brought up by my amazing parents who are still my role models. And their best advice is to discipline (that does not mean being physical but being strict in your family rules) your children and to instill the core values (honesty, kindness, integrity, humanity, thoughtfulness, emphathy, charity, loyalty, good manners) through showing love.
Who is your hero or heroine and why?
My parents without a doubt. I grew up seeing what a loving relationship is and should be. My dad is 74 and still makes breakfasts for my mum every morning. They still hold hands everywhere they go. My brother and I grew up in a loving and secure environment that our parents have created.
They are my inspiration because they led a life of example to those around them and never fail to leave their mark on the lives of those they know… they lead their lives with love, integrity, kindness and generosity.
I grew up following my parents on mission trips to help the less fortunate… opening their hearts to people in need. I see my parents choosing to spend their money on giving to families in need over buying material or branded goods.
I remembered telling my mum once to change her old phone and her reply was “why would I want to – knowing that a new phone can help feed a family in need for a few months?”.
My parents are now in their 70s and being blessed with a good life. My daddy was one of the Ex-VPs of Bank of America in Singapore so I am pretty sure we had ample savings to lead a lavish life but we never did. My parents gave me and my brother an extremely comfortable life … however they never splurged on ANY luxury items but they chose to live simply and use their money for the greater good.
My brother too left a very successful career as one of the General Managers of Singapore Airlines to start a social enterprise with his Wife and my sister-in-law Cheryl. They now run a successful multi faceted social enterprise (combining a cafe, nail spa and a shop selling eco-friendly and socially conscious brands to jewelry made by ex-human trafficking victims) and hire only people who needs second chances in society. We are a far cry from my parents but I believe what I am today is because of their example.
In one of my recent conversations with my parents, I was complaining about why I was unable to get them on their mobile or at home that day. Their reply was “ we are busy bringing a bunch of old people from the community out. They are underprivileged and we are bringing them out to places they would not have a chance to visit followed by a lunch after”… this is coming from a pair of 70 year olds. They replied “ we will keep doing it until our legs can’t go on anymore”. My parents make me so so proud.
I am trying to bring up my girls with the same values of giving as I was brought up with. When we were in Hamburg, I used the profits from my business to support the Syrain refugee effort by being the main sponsor for two refugee camps (250 and 350 refugees). I felt that it was very important to get my girls involved so that they could learn important life lessons.
So when their friends were having after school activities, my girls were out shopping for food , going with me to deliver food, and helping me serve food in the refugee camps. I hope they will grow up to become kind, loving, honest ladies with integrity and who will contribute to society.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
Falling on my face in front of the entire stadium during a 100m sprint event.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Creating amazing costumes for school events/ plays/halloween… I SUCK BIG TIME in this area!
My most humbling mama moment was…
Not one and I have a few…
- When Keira who was eight stood up to the biggest bully (she was twice the size of Keira) in her school in France when the bully was picking on her friend.
- When the girls asked me if they could invite someone over for a play date in Germany and invited a girl who was not popular and had no friends in school. This meant even more to me because they are best friends with some of the most popular kids in school and they kept this play date only with this girl who became a close friend to them in time.
- When Teggy stood up to a group of close friends in Hamburg who were being mean to another kid. The result was her being hurt and ignored by her own friends for a week but we told her how proud we were of her. That week, she learnt an important lesson that making the right decision may not always be the popular decision… but that she needed to do the right thing and stick to her beliefs and principles no matter what. Kids being kids, they welcomed her back into their group after the weekend.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Homecooked, healthy, nutritious food for the family no matter how busy I get
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Work and Food 🙂
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Be nagging my girls in terms of :
- What they eat or feed their families (we hate junk food)
- How clean their homes are (I am obsessive with cleanliness)
My favourite moment of the day is…
In the mornings when both our girls climb into our bed for their 15 min daily cuddles after waking up before we all start our day.
I always feel saner after…
- Speaking to my parents on the phone or daily Whatsapps to my bunch of girlfriends (we have been friends for 35 years!) in Singapore
- Going to the gym and sweating it out
I wish I had more time for…
For my family and friends back in Singapore. Missing them is a constant but a part of our life as an expat family.
We have been away for 13 years and lived in different countries (Singapore/ Genoa / Geneva/ France/ Hamburg/ Dubai). With each move, we say goodbye to good and dear friends that eventually become our family and we leave them behind… goodbyes are never easy but it means that we are so blessed to have families around the world.