Tell us about your educational background and your work experience to date.
After sixth form, I went straight to Catering College. I was already working 5 nights a week as a Kitchen Porter at 14 years old. Roles included rumbling potatoes, picking herbs, washing tons of pots and pans, sounds pretty tough but I was quite happy getting decent pocket money too.
Promoted to Kitchen Hand a year later and started to learn some basic kitchen skills. But mainly given plenty of stick – it’s a rite of passage as long as it’s done in the right way, the camaraderie that I believe singles out our industry. Straight after graduating college I went to London to start work as a Commis Chef. After 4 years in London I moved to Bermuda as a Chef de Partie. And now CEO of Gracy’s Arts & Supper Club.
Why are you so passionate about the F&B industry?
I think it’s what I mentioned in the first question, it’s quite a tough life choice. All your school friends are off Friday nights and the weekend. You work Christmas, Easter all the main holidays, your busiest days are when most people are off work or on holiday.
You get close to your work mates, you become a very tight crew and what seems unsociable hours to people that work 9-5 becomes your world and you’re off Mondays! It’s just how it is.
Mention five words to describe yourself and your work ethic.
Learner, Teacher, Unpretentious, Passionate, Teamplayer
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Delivering on the vision and principles of Gracy’s creators Samantha Rowe-Beddoe and Gregory Nasmyth. In a position such as mine, business management is key. And client relationships are fundamental. Under promise and over deliver – this will gain trust and a good standing in my opinion. But you’re only as good at the team around you.
Chef Tom Peters is an incredible talent in the kitchen, something he keeps proving with every new menu. He always turns it up a notch and together with a stellar Front of House team we strive to give our guests something special and unique.
Tell us one of the most rewarding experiences in your profession to date.
As a young chef my goal to be an Executive Chef by 30. I would always do a stage whenever possible including Marco Pierre White’s The Canteen, Dorchester Grill & Oriental Restaurant back then the 1st Asian restaurant with a MICHELIN star in London. Aged 32, I was promoted to Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Sydney; voted Best Hotel in Australasia for 5 years before and during my time.
I then spent 5 years in Bali where I met Mark Weingard as a guest at Luna2 the Hotel I ran as General manager. A move to Thailand with Mark followed; to open and run Iniala Thailand. At the same time, we opened Aziamendi with 3 Star MICHELIN Chef Eneko Atxa. Some reading this might remember Aziamendi 100 which was showcased in the same place I work now… how’s that for a coincidence!
What growth do you anticipate for the hospitality industry in the next 20 years?
Countries such as Saudi Arabia are investing heavily in hotels and restaurants; this will require a huge amount of talent. One growth area, unfortunately, will be the shortfall of quality staff. It’s one of the biggest challenges we face, along with high rents, increased competition and costs for product and ingredients. There is so much variety here in Malta; the dining scene in Valletta has expanded with a surge.