This week’s chef of the week is certainly one of Malta’s best culinary masters. Introducing Chef Victor Borg, Government Chef at Grain.
Grain is a brand new multi-concept institution within the charming previous city of Valletta, that includes Grain Avenue and Below Grain. The latter is Grain’s showpiece, for sure, because it is among the very first eating places in Malta to be awarded a MICHELIN star. Grain Avenue’s specialises within the idea of sharing whereas Below Grain affords a refined eating expertise to all who go to.
Profitable a MICHELIN star with Below Grain adopted nearly naturally for Victor, as his earlier restaurant Mange Tout was awarded Malta’s greatest restaurant seven years in a row.
Chef’s Pencil has talked to Victor about his profession and his work at Grain, in addition to Maltese delicacies and recommendation for younger cooks.
1. What impressed you to turn into a chef?
From the younger age of 15, I knew that I wished to turn into a chef. I pushed myself to turn into the perfect that I may be. Within the late Nineteen Eighties, the Institute of Tourism (ITS) got here out with various initiatives round Malta and I instantly utilized. I’ve at all times dreamed massive and my largest dream was to have my very own restaurant in a five-star resort.
2. The place did you prepare to cook dinner?
I began with a 2-year Diploma course in Meals & Beverage at ITS. Other than my research, I learnt rather a lot from expertise. I labored and educated in London with Gordon Ramsey, and in addition in different nations equivalent to Switzerland, a two MICHELIN-star restaurant in Norway, a restaurant in Scotland, Luxembourg, Russia, and others. I used to be additionally the crew captain in Malta’s Nationwide Workforce.
Grain is split into two elements; Grain Avenue and Below Grain. Grain Avenue is what I prefer to name a restaurant with out guidelines; a bistro that doesn’t supply the normal menu. At Grain Avenue, you possibly can select what you need from the menu that follows the idea of sharing plates. There may be additionally an in depth wine checklist that may all be ordered by the glass – a reasonably new idea for Malta.
Our MICHELIN-star restaurant Below Grain goes by a very completely different idea, that of refined eating. It’s closely targeted on the expertise. The menu is seasonal and we’ve not too long ago launched a tasting menu that may be paired with refined wine.
This can be a very tough query! At Grain Avenue, we’ve ‘Black lasagne with calamari, squid ink, and nduja’, which may be very well-liked. At Below Grain, certainly one of my signature dishes ‘Baked white chocolate cheesecake, ardour fruit, and marjoram sorbet’, is extraordinarily well-liked. I’ve been doing the latter for 20 years and I’m at all times enhancing the recipe.
5. The place do you get your inspiration?
This can be a generally requested query! I discover inspiration from anyplace and all over the place, notably seasons, completely different substances, colours, work, and so many extra. I do a number of analysis, learn many books, and journey around the globe (pre-COVID-19).
I am going to locations the place there’s an fascinating meals tradition in order that I can be taught extra. Earlier than visiting a restaurant, I conduct my very own analysis on the chef and his/her fashion of cooking!
6. You’ve not too long ago been awarded the extremely coveted MICHELIN star. What was that like?
I can’t put the sensation into phrases. We had been over the moon and it has been a life-long dream of mine. I’ve been dreaming of being awarded a MICHELIN star for 25 years. Each skilled chef’s dream is to get this achievement – it’s just like the Oscars for artists, you can not do any higher.
We put a number of onerous work into Below Grain however we had been additionally shocked to obtain this award since usually it takes years to get it. Receiving the award after 5 months of opening was all of the extra rewarding.
7. Inform us a bit about Maltese delicacies? What makes it particular and what are the highest Maltese dishes we completely have to check out?
What’s particular about Maltese delicacies is that it has a number of influences and, subsequently, so many flavours. You could have Italian, African, English – the combination makes it all of the extra fascinating. My favorite Maltese dish is certainly rabbit. I cook dinner and eat rabbit as soon as per week so I might undoubtedly advocate anybody to style it.
8. What do you regard because the quintessential Maltese ingredient?
Maltese delicacies is made up of a number of Mediterranean influences, all containing wholesome substances. It’s what makes Maltese dishes so pure and fascinating.
9. What’s your favourite place to go to in Malta?
Malta is gorgeous however certainly one of my favourite locations is certainly Mdina. The silent metropolis is magical, particularly at night time. I additionally love Dingli Cliffs for its spectacular views.
10. What’s essentially the most underrated foodie vacation spot?
When pondering of foodie locations, nobody ever thinks of Portugal. Their meals tradition may be very fascinating and so they have improved tremendously through the years.
11. You might be thought to be among the finest Maltese cooks, if not one of the best. What units a high chef other than the pack?
I might by no means say one of the best! I consider that keenness units a chef aside. This occupation is a way of life and never merely a job. It entails a number of onerous work, focus and element in the whole lot that you simply do.
Ardour units a chef aside. This occupation is a way of life and never merely a job. It entails a number of onerous work, focus and element in the whole lot that you simply do.
Chef Victor Borg
12. Do you have got a signature dish or a favourite dish that you simply get pleasure from cooking?
As talked about beforehand, certainly one of my signature dishes is ‘Baked white chocolate cheesecake, ardour fruit and marjoram sorbet’. I get pleasure from cooking the whole lot however principally pasta, meat, and fish dishes.
13. What’s one of the best meal you’ve ever had?
One other tough query! Nonetheless, among the finest meals I’ve ever had was in Switzerland. It was so good that I bear in mind precisely what I ordered on this 9-course meal. It was 25 years in the past at Resort De Ville and cooked by a 3 MICHELIN-star chef.
14. What recommendation would you give to somebody who desires to turn into a profitable chef?
My recommendation could be to place your head down and do the work.
Attempt to at all times work with one of the best and perceive that it takes a number of onerous work to turn into a profitable chef.
Chef Victor Borg
15. Your greatest recommendation for novice cooks?
I might recommend at all times cooking with contemporary substances. I consider that that makes all of the distinction. Attempt various things – you gained’t get it proper the primary time however follow makes good. You’re going to get there!
Chef Victor Borg
Grain | Below Grain
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