Interview: Chef daniel grech
Daniel Grech started off as a dishwasher and later made a name for himself in Malta with his custom made over the top burger and pancake creations. He now runs his own restuarants and stars as a tv judge in a cooking competition show called Gourmet Challenge
How did you discover your passion for food?
I started working as a dishwasher when I was 18 years old. Whilst working in the kitchen i watched other people cook and was always interested in the adrenaline and creativity that I used to witness. After two years, I began to help out in the kitchen and eventually became a chef. I haven’t looked back since.
You’ve been recognised for your ability to take classic comfort food dishes and add your own personal twist to catch guests’ interests. Can you share your inspiration behind this style of cooking?
I developed this style of cooking from my weird creativity. I like colourful food that includes a lot of sweetness and rich flavours. I also like to infuse food that I used to like as a child into the dishes I create today.
You’ve been working in a kitchen for more than a decade. What would you say are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the local restaurant scene over the past ten years?
The biggest change I’ve seen is that because of social media, a lot of people are informed and have a better understanding about food and restaurants . Then again , there are those people who think they understand just because of the knowledge they have from pictures they’ve seen online. I’ve also realised that it is very hard employ local staff who are ready to work in a restaurant. A lot of Maltese people do not work in catering establishments anymore.
When developing your menus, do you opt for local sustainable ingredients? How do you feel that these components impact the overall flavour profile of a dish?
Yes, in Malta we are blessed with many beautiful local products such as vegetables, particularly our tomatoes and potatoes. Not to mention our local pork and fresh seafood.
Social media has changed the way locals choose their food. What are your thoughts on this statement?
Social media has definitely changed the way that locals thinks. It has given our restaurant a great boost, but then again it can also cause severe damage on food establishments. It can either make you or break you. The pressure inside restaurants has definitely increased because nowadays anyone can bring out his phone and leave a bad review or a good review online.
What is it like being a judge and criticising people’s food on national television?
I’m a pretty critical person and I’m honest about that. It’s my job to look for things that could be improved. I speak my mind and it’s easy to do so when there are positive things to say. On the other hand, it’s harder when I’m being harsh because people might disagree with what I have to say. I might upset the person whose food I’m judging but it’s definitely never personal. At the end of the day this is a competition and the participants know what they are getting themselves into.
What do you enjoy most about working in this industry?
I enjoy meeting and connecting with so many different people from all around the world… everyone from staff to customers. One of the greatest things I enjoy is the adrenaline feeling us chefs experience during rush hour and the best feeling is seeing people happy and satisfied with the final product that has been served to them…this means you are doing something good.