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Interview with Gastronome Kurt Mifsud

Interview with Gastronome Kurt Mifsud

Oh My Malta recently sat down with Kurt Mifsud, passionate gastronome and founder of the Mediterranean Culinary Academy in Malta, to find out a little bit more about his passion for food and his perception on local cuisine

Can you tell us a bit about your passion for gastronomy?

My journey began in my late teens when I found myself working in different restaurants. This passion has led me to meet some incredible producers and chefs from all over the world.

I think there are two things that really keep me interested and invested. Firstly, gastronomy is a field of study in which you have to think but also be in touch with your senses. There is a trained awareness of taste and smell as well as an openness to discussion, which I find absolutely addictive.

Secondly, it is a way in which people communicate their story and this is something that I find fascinating.

as the founder of the mediterranean culinary academy, can you tell us what the academy focuses on?

The MCA is intrinsically committed to developing particularly Mediterranean cuisine, as well as leading the way with regards to sustainable agricultural practices.

Based in Malta, the academy revolves around a unique set of contemporary values that places the food cycle at the core of everything it teaches. From kids and adult courses to single session workshops, the MCA is a home for all foodies looking to expand their culinary knowledge through hands-on cooking classes.

Gastronomy today is more widely appreciated as an art than before. Do you agree?

I think there is a better food scene in Malta than there was a few years back. It has definitely improved.
However, I’m not sure about the gastronomy being appreciated more and even referring to it as an art is a statement which I can’t fully agree with.

To me, understanding gastronomy and talking about it should mainly consist about finding beauty in everyday delicacies. Appreciating the land and sea around us as well as the producers and farmers who create the food we eat.

Can you tell us about the Maltese food scene now? And what would you say are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the local food scene over the years?

I think in the last few years there has been a push for the chef to be more creative and a push for the creation of more exciting dishes as well as to deliver consistently, which is very positive.

I have seen many chefs and restauranteurs pushing for more local products to be used and that is extremely positive in my opinion.

How is Maltese cuisine different from other types of cuisines?

Maltese cuisine is a culmination of the history of the Mediterranean. Very similar to our language, Maltese food is made up of different cultural influences from the cultures that have conquered the island.

What is the biggest misconception you have seen or heard regarding local food and how important is seasonality to you?

One of the biggest cisonceptions is that for some reason locally grown fruit and vegetables are full of pesticides and herbicides and foreign produce is better.

Herbicides and pesticides aren’t free and cost money, so someone using them is trying to save money and use the minimum amount possible. Other than that, local fruits and vegetables are picked just before they are to be sold whereas something coming in from abroad might be picked weeks before it hits the supermarket shelves. This obviously has a negative effect on the flavour of the product. To me this is also a great case for eating seasonally as you are eating something in its prime.

How can locals be more responsible eaters?

I think this one is easy. You can act more responsibly just by going to the farmer’s market once a month. Like this you will find it easier to understand what is in season and also get inspired by the colours and the smells around you!

Which local ingredients and dishes would you recommend to tourists?

Right now, I would definitely say any citrus. Malta has a long history of growing citrus and right now anyone can get their hands on and taste some amazing fruit.

Olive oil is also a product I feel most people should try as local olive oil in general is of a high quality. As dishes I would recommend, and line caught fresh fish, which you can find prepared as simply as possible.