Malta’s restaurant scene has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years with the arrival of Michelin raising the bar for fine-dining establishments across the island. But behind the scenes, the industry has been grappling with a new set of challenges – from the unforeseen difficulties of lockdown to staffing shortages, rising produce costs, and more. Business Now speaks with six of the island’s leading Chef Patrons to uncover their insights, challenges and hopes for fine dining in Malta.
In the third part of this six-part series, we delve into the insights of the Chef Patron at Noni, Jonathan Brincat.
“At Noni, our cooking style is primarily influenced by our Maltese and Mediterranean cultural traditions, with a touch of modern refinement. I like to take inspiration from the memories of my mother and grandmother’s home-cooked meals and give them a playful twist. Our aim is to make every guest feel welcome, as if they’ve just walked into a traditional Maltese home.
“When coming up with new dishes, I find inspiration in everything – nature, ingredients, seasons, memories, and even my travels. Of course, running a restaurant is never easy, and we currently face many pressing challenges like staff shortages, escalating costs and high property rentals. But with a positive attitude and a willingness to find solutions, I believe you can overcome most obstacles.
“At the end of the day, being a chef and restaurateur is all about passion, and without that drive to create something special for our customers, there would be no reason to open a restaurant at all. Passion is crucial to succeeding in this industry. There will always be challenges, but if you fundamentally don’t have a love for food and how dining can impact people, there’s really no point in opening a restaurant at all.
“It’s also important to remain responsive to the current market and be proactive in addressing challenges. I remain optimistic about the future of the local culinary scene. By taking care of our customers and providing them with unique dining experiences, we can ensure an exciting future for restaurants and diners alike.”
Asked to list his three favourite local restaurants, he selects Danny’s (Qormi), Ali Baba (Gzira) and Tartarun (Marsaxlokk).
Noni Co-Owner and Chef Patron Jonathan Brincat / Photo by Brian Grech
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