Going about a Chef’s interview, for
me, is always a little bit intimidating.
Truth be told, I’d much rather speak
to the masterminds of a kitchen than
a performer on a stage, a bold leader
or a creative in their exhibition space.
Perhaps that’s because my view of a
Chef is a combination of all these vibrant
qualities; and Executive Chef Victor
Borg is one of those masterminds whose
work in the kitchen resonates with the
passions of the industry.
The recipe for an excellent Chef is unique.
Much like the signature dishes that chefs
develop through the years, their characters,
principles and aspirations for their trade are
moulded out of the experiences and lessons
But one common ingredient, that I find essential to
the recipe, is grit. Defining a Chef’s success by that pluck
of courage is how the industry evaluates the character of
a professional kitchen. A display that is entirely apparent
when tasting menus are composed, dessert menus updated
or wine pairings are reviewed; a process where character,
opinion and taste are all laid down for judgement by
its diner. Grain by grain, the character of a Chef comes
Character is built through experience and Victor Borg’s
extensive portfolio of accomplishments has led him to
Grain, the AX Hotels dining experience housed in the
5-star luxury boutique hotel Rosselli AX Privilege, Valletta.
Highlighted through Under Grain and Grain Street, Chef
Victor’s kitchen was bold and tenacious enough to get two
worthy stamps of approval from the MICHELIN Guide; a Bib
Gourmand for Grain Street and a One MICHELIN Star for
Under Grain. But to get all the way to the glamour of the
Guide, there needs to be grit in your past.
Learning your trade young gives you the time to add
embellishments to your art and for Chef Victor this
started at the tender age of 15, when a summer job at the
Dragonara Hotel paved the way for professional training at
ITS - where the grains of Chef Victor Borg start to sprout.
“Enrolling in ITS in its second year of opening felt like
destiny. I was a year short of enrollment age for the
Institute’s opening year, so I used that time to gain some
experience in the industry. Under the mentorship of Chef
Victor Cassar, Silvio Briffa and Christopher Farrugia,
I learned the basics, the hard work and the rush of the
catering industry - taking their advice at such a young age is
now a very proud moment in my past.”
Chef Victor’s two-year training; learning the ropes in the
kitchen and service duities in the F&B Diploma course at
ITS; was all it took to cement the ideologies and techniques
of a Chef into the young cook; but perhaps it was his time
outside Malta that soared him to levels of elite culinary
“Your training as a Chef is actually never complete, you’re
continuously learning the language of food - but the
truest way to learn is to explore through travel. My training
experience was mainly in the hotel industry; namely
Dragonara Hotel and The Phoenicia. These opportunities
gave me the experience and the know-how but my time
overseas is what boosted me my confidence in the kitchen.
I first went to Bellevue Palace in Berne, Switzerland
where my biggest challenge for the day was the language
barrier. I steadily learned the ropes and kept my head in
the game.” During this time, Victor Borg was already a
celebrated Chef locally, but his name was not entirely new
on the international scene either.
His talent and passion
were recognised early on in his professional training,
securing him a spot on the Malta National Team of Chefs,
who showcased the island’s culinary talent - competing,
coaching and judging have all been a part of his journey.
But one year in London, where he was merely a spectator
led him to an experience of, yet again… destiny.
“I was a young Chef, inhaling every aspect that had to do
with the culinary world, I read all the books and I travelled
to as many of the international events as I could. During
the London World Association of Chef Societies (WACS)
Competition in 1997, I managed to take a quick taxi ride to
11, Park Walk, where I stood outside a closed restaurant and
studied the menu on the board outside, only dreaming that
one day I would be able to visit as a guest. But the next day,
my dream would change.
As I returned to the competition hall, I wandered through
the sound of chopping and sizzling until a tall, rather
confident figure caught my attention. I turned slightly and
saw the Chef, whose restaurant I fawned over the day
before. It was Gordon Ramsay, the then-Head Chef at
Aubergine. I plucked up the courage and approached him,
using my passion and determination to secure a job under
his mentorship, which lasted six months.”
In 1997, Ramsay was working to retain his second
MICHELIN star which meant the pressure was turned right
up. “We’d start prep at 07:00 and work all the way through
to dinner service with a short 30 minute break at 17:30.
There were many who never came back after their break,
or didn’t show up the next day. Chef Ramsay was focused,
serious and intense - pretty much a younger version of
the TV Ramsay we all respect.
He knew what he wanted
and made it happen, and in a way, with every Chef that
left his kitchen, I gained confidence that I was worthy and
able. Worthy and able enough to open my own restaurant
Mangetout in Xemxija when I was 25 years old.”
Mangetout was a crowd favourite, winning seven consecutive
Definitive(ly) Good Guide Awards for Best Overall Restaurant
and a space where Chef Victor Borg could begin his own
journey in creating dishes that impress the palette and sooth
the soul. Combining classical French training with Asian
inspired flavours, Chef Victor brought something exciting
and different to Maltese cuisine - something that is highly
Another, far more recent instance where Executive Chef Victor
Borg celebrated his heritage through his own musings and flair
was at the MICHELIN Four Hands event held in London, where
Chef Borg worked alongside Chef Victor Garvey, SOLA’s One
MICHELIN Star Head Chef. This was the first time MICHELIN
invited a Maltese Chef to work on a Four Hands Dinner
through which Chef Victor Borg was able to showcase his
local gastronomy and MICHELIN prowess.
Life for a Chef is all about taking it to the next level - using that
experience, confidence and, lest we forget, grit, to get you to
where you need to be. Once Rosselli AX Privilege was in its
stages of conception, the flair and accuracy of a Chef worth
their salt was called upon and what a wonderful pairing it was,
is and hopefully will be for a long, long time.
Pairing Chef Victor Borg with Grain just makes sense. His
transformation of simple ingredients juxtaposed to his use
of the finest luxurious produce, delicacies and culinary
magic; give you the sense of whimsical eliteness.
something special about being escorted to a table, treated
like royalty from the moment you enter the restaurant and
prepare yourself for each course to be better than the last. But
‘knowing’ the Chef, the bold and eager way in which he talks
and the friendly, yet confident look in his eyes, makes you fall
in love with the culinary experience even more.
Whether it’s a flowing conversation or an absolutely top-level
quality meal, Victor Borg is a man of the kitchen, a Chef whose
choices are fuelled by his unique palette and sheer grit that led
him to a destiny that his diners are entirely fortunate to have.