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 fourth part of this six-part series, we delve into the insights of the Chef Patron at The Golden Fork, Letizia Vella.

“Our concept at The Golden Fork is to express Maltese traditional cooking in a contemporary and refined way. I use complex transformation techniques to create apparently simple dishes that are immediately recognisable but new at the same time. Our commitment to sustainability extends beyond our menu, as we promote local ingredients and dishes. The modern-day restaurant has evolved to become more than just a place to eat. It’s an immersive experience that encompasses not only the food but also the impact it has on the environment and community.

“As many people know, restaurants the world over are facing extreme challenges, including news that legendary restaurant Noma is to close its doors. I believe this is worrying for the fine-dining scene. But we need to keep focused to manage our businesses efficiently to survive. In Malta, we face the additional challenge of fostering and retaining top talent amid fierce competition from other countries. At The Golden Fork, we strive to create a fun and attractive working environment, offering competitive salaries and guaranteed time off. I believe in investing in our youth and providing them with opportunities to gain valuable experiences locally.

“In my opinion, dining is like high fashion for clothing or F1 racing for cars. It’s something that’s always going to be around. People don’t just go to restaurants to fill their stomachs; they go for the whole experience. That’s why it’s crucial for us to stay open-minded and find solutions even in tough times. It’s what sets fine-dining establishments apart, being able to differentiate ourselves and give our guests a unique experience they won’t forget.”

Asked to list her three favourite local restaurants, he selects Noni (Valletta), Risette (Valletta) and Tartarun (Marsaxlokk).

This interview was first carried in the 2023 edition of Business Now Magazine, the sister brand to and produced by Content House Group

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