Keith Abela

Keith Abela


Q: Tell us about your educational background and your work experience to date.

Started as a summer job cook when I was 13, attended sixth form and later ITS. Left to work at the Grand Hotel in Jersey, where the Roux brothers were consultants. Worked as a Chef in Malta and other countries in Europe, and owned Sammy’s. I taught Food Preservation and Flavour Sciences at MCAST and Culinary Officer at the MCA. In 2019 we launched Natural Preserves, we design, research, and troubleshoot recipes, train staff and help companies be more sustainable. I also contribute to this publication. And a few other things.


Q: What drives your passion for food in all its complexities?
Nature and knowledge. In a kitchen, the question to the reason ‘why?’ is often ‘because’, that was never enough for me, so in 2006 I started studying food sciences. I’m a spearo and forager so I have this deep connection with nature. Spending all my time in nature, with farmers, underwater, in direct contact with food, you notice the little things and all I want to do is try to understand why and how they work.


Q: Mention five words to describe yourself and your work ethic.
Curious | Creative | Strict | Natural | Overly-explanatory


Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
While my week is usually organised to the tee, I don’t like the mental shackles of long term plans, I feel it limits discovery. Four years ago I was researching acetic acid producing bacteria, three years ago tomatoes and after that fungi and their role in sustainability. I don’t know what might pique my interest in the next two weeks, let alone. I do what makes me happy now and it’s fantastic.


Q. Can you mention industry professionals who have inspired you? What do you admire about them?
The Adria brothers. They raised the next generation of forward thinking Chefs, and helped get rid of MICHELIN’s grand Traditional French philosophy, increasing creativity. Phillipo Tommasso, a Chef and artist from the 19th century for his works in multisensory dining. Simon Rogan, Sam Ward and their team, they genuinely care about sustainability, and the planet, andthey’re humble, I’m so blessed to work with them.


Q. What is your favourite ingredient at the moment and why?
Koji mould, Aspergillus species. First of all the different types, watching it grow and taking care of it, knowing how to maintain it. It’s so challenging, one small mistake you can kill someone. It’s almost meditative to grow. But they produce all the tastes and really fruity aromas. So I can make shoyu, misos, garums and so much more stuff. I really do love this fungus, if it’s done right.

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