Served asks Maria Sammut, Executive chef & co-owner of 59 Republic, Valletta a few questions about her passion and drive for good food.
What or who inspired you to become a chef?
My early inspiration is a cliché, but it was my mother who involved me, from an early age, in her cooking and has always been a strong influence on me. She saw that I seemed to have a natural talent and encouraged me, which led to me as a private chef for dinner parties and small events in my late teens.
What drives you to continuously create new recipes and new combinations?
Sheer creativity and a little boredom, I strive for perfection with a recipe and I always want to create that perfect dish. Once a menu is created and sent out into the world, my mind goes into overdrive with new ideas and flows with creative passion. In fact at 59 Republic we launch a new menu every eight weeks to keep our patrons coming back for more and we strive to continually introduce and bring new ideas to our dishes.
How is your cooking influenced by other countries or travel?
I lean towards dishes with a classic nature and a natural French infusion in style and flavours. At the restaurant, we introduced signature dishes such as Beef Wellington, Chicken Cordon Bleu and Baked Alaska, reinterpreted with our own style. Travelling is a pleasure for a chef, as it allows you to absorb flavours and tastes from different cultures and learn continuously from what the world has to offer.
vHow does it feel being in your twenties, co-owner of a successful Valletta restaurant and one of Malta’s few female executive chefs?
It feels inspiring! There is a lot of culinary talent in Malta, it’s booming with great places to have a gastronomical experience. People often think to be successful you must travel abroad and work in huge international cities, but I am very proud of my achievements, especially for my age and we are loving what we have established at 59 Republic in Valletta, treasuring every guests reviews and feedback.
Your must-have kitchen gadget?
Definitely a complete set of good knives!
Your best cooking tip?
Don’t be scared try new things, be creative and continually challenge yourself but stay organised!
A childhood meal you still recreate or enjoy
There is no need for food to be complicated or fussy with names and terminology that most people do not understand. So many restaurants complicate dishes and I love many low key, classic dishes such as Mac & Cheese but now I add a little sophistication to it by adding lobster or fresh grated truffle.
Perfect dinner party menu?
The perfect dinner party menu must not be complicated and must be easy to action, you do not want to be spending half of your time in the kitchen away from your guests. Something that will impress but that can be easily prepared to reduce time in the kitchen during your dinner!
Cooking in general, nothing gives me more pleasure then cooking something decadent, bursting with flavour and tantalizing in taste.
Maria Sammut has been in love with cooking for 12 years and started working as a private chef in her teens, whilst gaining valuable experiences at some of Malta’s top fine dining restaurants. She has recently launched 59 Republic, a fine dining restaurant situated just off Palace Square in Republic Street, Valletta. The restaurant has quickly become a highlight on the Valletta dining scene with weekends fully booked one week in advance. Maria has managed to establish a restaurant that places huge importance on service and a chic ambiance, as well on delivering excellent food.