World Chef’s Day 2023 – Interview with Our Head Chef: Steven Pisani

  1. Briefly let us know your journey throughout your culinary years.
    My personal journey in the culinary industry started when I enrolled in the Food Preparation and Production Certificate program, which paved the way for me to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts. During my years at I.T.S., I had many opportunities to learn from exceptional lecturers, both locally and abroad. The knowledge obtained from this institute and the Paul Bocuse Institute in France has led me to secure my place in various hotels and restaurants in Malta and abroad, such as the one-star Michelin star “Lympstone Manor” restaurant, led by Michael Caines. This fuelled my appetite for more challenges and adventures, ultimately leading to AX giving me the opportunity to lead a team at Simblija Care Home and Hilltop Retirement Village.

  2. What inspired you to become a Chef?
    My mother was my inspiration for starting my culinary journey. From a young age, seeing her cook a wide variety of home-cooked meals, from pasta and meats to home-made bread and pizza on a daily basis, inspired me to start creating my own food dishes.

  3. What is most satisfying about your job?
    Customer feedback. Receiving feedback from clients or residents justifies the long hours. My day is made whenever I sacrifice a free evening, or go the extra mile, and then have someone on the other side appreciating every bit of it.

  4. How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
    Cooking is an art in which all the senses work together in a synchronised manner. A simple ingredient can be transformed into a delicious multisensory meal. New combinations of ingredients and methods have endless possibilities of unique dishes.

  5. Let us know about your signature dish.
    I have enjoyed perfecting my chicken liver parfait with cider jelly, apples, truffled blue potatoes, and fresh brioche bread. Creating a dish like this requires precise timing and attention to detail; a minute less or a minute more can easily spoil the final result.

  6. Your favourite ingredient to cook with and why?
    My favourite ingredient to work with is Pork Belly. While it is often seen as an economical cut of meat, the magic happens when it is brined and cooked well, resulting in a beautiful crunchy skin with a succulent, tender meat full of flavours.

  7. When designing a menu, what do you take into consideration mostly?
    Firstly, finding the niche in my market. I believe in basing my menu around the customers that I want to attract to my establishment. Then, I aim to achieve what I plan to do by looking at the local and seasonal fruits and vegetables that are available around me.

  8. Which period of the year is your most favourite for cooking?
    Definitely Summer. It’s the time of year when fruits and vegetables are at their peak ripeness; the natural sunlight gives an extra kick to their flavour. The abundance of fresh, seasonal ingredients in the summer allows for a delightful creativity in the kitchen, and it’s during this period that I find the most inspiration and enjoyment in my cooking.

  9. When you’re not in the kitchen, where can you be found?
    In our family fields, trying to understand better the natural process of growing plants and trees. This relaxes my mind from the day-to-day tasks whilst deepening my understanding of the intricate wonders of nature. I feel recharged and equipped with fresh perspectives.