Executive chef Urban Valley Resort and Spa

What or who inspired you to become a chef?

From a young age, I always loved to watch my parents cook. My mother mainly does the cooking at home, but during Christmas they join forces to make the “Qagħaq tal-Għasel” (honey rings). Growing up in such an environment inspired me to choose cooking as a career which is also something I enjoy doing in my free time.

What drives you to continuously create new recipes and new combinations?
Is your cooking influenced by the countries you have worked in?

The satisfaction of seeing my guests enjoying meals created by myself or my team is very important to me. I thrive on giving a great experience to the customer every time they dine at our restaurants.

Apart from my collage internship, the other country I have worked in besides Malta is the UK. I did a couple of stages in this country from which I learnt a lot, so yes the UK did in fact inspire my cooking techniques.
What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and the strangest food request you have had to deliver on?

The strangest food I ate were lambs’ testicles. They were on the menu back when I worked at Le Brasserie in the UK. And as a side note to this story, I remember clearly one afternoon during my working days at Le Brasserie, I saw a container with white liquid on the kitchen top and instead of asking what was that liquid, I tasted it. My Sous chef at the time started laughing and asked me if I liked it and really there was nothing to like about it, it tasted very strange, later she explained that it was the milk she soaked the lamb’s testicles in overnight to remove the impurities. I am not fussy at all but honestly it is not something I ever want to taste again. Let’s say the end product tasted much better that milk.

As for the strangest food request, we do get quite a few of them and we always try to accommodate them in the best we can, but besides the people who wants their pork or chicken rare (which we can’t do for health reasons), I once had someone who requested her seabass to be vegan!

Your must have kitchen gadget

Sous vide bath, a piece of equipment that keeps a constant temperature for a long period of time, achieving amazing results.

Your best cooking tip

Always taste and season food as you go. You spend hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the final product. So make sure to taste as you go along. That way, you’ll realize if the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make last-ditch efforts to save it. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be, can take a great dinner a legendary status.

Your favourite childhood meal which you still make or eat

The store-bought tortellini with tomato sauce made from just “kunserva” garlic and water, nothing special I know but sometimes I just crave a plate.

Perfect last meal

Definitely a panino from Caseificio Borderi at Ortygia market. Crispy fresh bread is stuffed with the best Italian hams and salamis, cheeses and marinated vegetables. This magnificent beast is 30cm long, and 10cm in height. Above all I love the passion the guy preparing these panini brings.

Guilty pleasure

Pork fat spread, how can you resist that?

Biggest kitchen nightmare

A full restaurant and a major equipment fail.

First and last cookbook you bought

My first cookbook was great British winter cookbook by James Martin, and last bought was momufuku milkbar by Christina Tosi

Your go to cocktail or drink

My favorite drink is Hendricks gin and tonic, and like any other chef, that cold beer after service is a must.

Info Box : About the chef
Age: 27
Hometown: Qormi
Cooking for 11 years.
Passionate about making his own cured meats and charcuterie
Favorite ingredient: Beetroot as I find it very versatile.