Celebrating the tactile art of tableware is precisely where Malta’s local restaurant scene is at. The quality of our celebrated restaurants has been elevated through intricate plating, improved attention to detail and of course the flavour profile of the end result, so how could our established Chefs elevate further? Tableware.
The hotel's unique appeal lies in its commitment to providing guests with personalized and luxurious experiences while showcasing the rich history and culture of the surrounding city. Matthew Ellul, Director at Casa Ellul, shares the hotel's story, mission, and plans for the future.
Enter Sue Mifsud, a renowned ceramicist in Malta, well-known for her contribution to the local restaurant scene. Her bespoke ceramic wares are used by some of the country's most celebrated restaurants, such as Noni in Valletta and Bahia in Attard - two of Malta’s six 1-MICHELIN-starred restaurants.
Mifsud's journey began 30 years ago when she started working with clay. However, it was only in the last eight years that she became self-employed, and her work became associated with the catering industry. The trend of using handmade bespoke ceramic ware was already a common feature in establishments abroad, and Mifsud's work was the perfect fit for local Chefs who familiarize themselves with the global culinary scene.
"Although their main priority is the food, every other aspect of the dining experience is an important consideration, from interior design, staffing, and lighting, to cutlery, presentation, and functional ware too," says Mifsud.
Every Chef Patron and restaurant is unique, and Mifsud ensures individuality for her clients without disrupting her style and aesthetic. She says, "My style will always be present in the work I produce, which I think is a subtle undercurrent in everything that I create, but the overall form and surface treatment will be drawn from the project I am working on."
Before starting a new project, Mifsud meets with the client to understand their personality, the image they want to project, the interior design, the colors they have chosen, their brand image, the type of food they will be preparing, and their envisioned presentation.
Mifsud then starts the design development, working directly with the clay, ensuring that the functional ware is infused with all the appropriate characteristics and will sit happily in its final home.
The flexibility of a dish or restaurant affects the way Mifsud approaches her art. Clay lends itself to endless possibilities with treatment of its surface, and Mifsud uses this frequently to capture the character of an establishment. "Textures can include smooth finishes, rough gritty sections, or maybe imprints, each applied with relevance to their final use," she explains. Mifsud is aware that the ceramic items will be a canvas and not outshine the food which will be presented on them. The perfect ware will be in harmony with, and enhance, the culinary creations.
Chefs with handmade ceramic ware are like kids in a sweetie shop, says Mifsud. She believes that they have not only embraced the use of bespoke ceramics but also understand the lengthy making process, which parallels their own profession. "I use raw ingredients, glazes are created from my own recipe, heat is involved in changing the initial materials into the final product, and slight changes in heat work or ingredients can affect the outcome," she adds.
Sue Mifsud's contribution to the local restaurant scene in Malta has been significant. Her bespoke ceramic wares have upgraded plating to some of Malta's most celebrated restaurants, and her artistry has ensured individuality for her clients. "Through word of mouth and the joy of social media, my work became associated with the catering industry," says Mifsud.
Chefs and restaurant owners who use her work are impressed with the possibilities of bespoke ceramics, and they understand the making process that parallels their own profession. Sue Mifsud's artistry is not only enhancing the dining experience but also making Malta’s culinary landmarks more memorable.