Recently, members of The Phoenicia Malta participated in Malta Kulinarja, and once again achieved fantastic results. Held every 2 years and organised by the Malta Chefs Society under the auspices of WACS – World Association of Chefs Society, Malta Kulinarja is a popular event where international judges are flown in to oversee the cooking mastery of local and foreign chefs.
Five team members participated in six different competitions, achieving awards in each category. We sat down and had a chat with our colleagues, to learn a little bit more about themselves and what inspired their dishes.
Christian Gilson is not new to the competition, having competed twice before. Christian, or Gilson, as he is known amongst colleagues, once again competed in the Live High Tea as well as Banquet Dessert, achieving Gold in both. The Live High Tea category is an especially special one for The Phoenicia Malta, given its British influence. In fact, Afternoon Tea is still served daily and is regarded as one of the best on the island. During our chat with Gilson, he explained how a job in the catering industry turned into a profession, after he took a fascination for pastry and decided to enrol at the Institute for Tourism Studies. It is safe to say that hard work pays off as the results speak for themselves.
Moving on we meet Keith Farrugia, who participated in the Underutilized Local Fish competition, achieving Silver. This was Keith’s first time participating, and he calls it a ‘learning experience’. He shares that creating the dish was a process, but found a lot of help from his colleagues who mentored him and explained the point system of the competition. He admits that there was a big sense of relief once it was over, however he immediately started contemplating where he could improve next time, as he plans on participating again and aiming higher.
Thomas Camilleri Mallia joined Christian in the Live High Tea competition, and also participated individually in the Local Pork category. Thomas went home with Gold and Silver (the latter for his pork dish). Thomas is not new to competitions either, having also competed twice before. In fact, Thomas competed with a pork dish in the Junior’s, and decided to improve on that dish and include more local flavours. Despite being more confident this time round, Thomas dedicated a lot of his personal time to prepare, even being up till 1am the previous night making sure everything was set.
This was also Jojo Joy’s first time participating, where he was rewarded a Silver medal for his entremet. Hailing from India, Jojo describes his creation as a fusion of modern French cuisine and traditional Indian dessert. His entremet consisted of 11 layers, which included various flavours and textures, such as the crunchiness of roasted almonds and feuilletine, and the smoothness of sponge soaked in coconut and saffron. Despite numerous training sessions, Jojo admits that he didn’t manage to complete the finishing and that it proved to be a complicated cake to create in 90 minutes. Nonetheless, Jojo is determined to compete again in two years, as he aims for gold!
Finally, we catch up with Joan Attard, our Creditor’s Ledge Controller turned Floral Sugar Craft expert. This is the third time for Joan at Malta Kulinarja, bagging a Gold medal this year for her intricate flower arrangement. Joan explains that her creation took over 100 hours to complete and required plenty of patience and perseverance. She admits that she was always fond of the pastry kitchen, and despite being with the company for 35 years, it was only in recent years that her talent came to light. Since then, Joan has given many a wedding cake or seasonal displays her beautiful finishing touches.
Here is the complete list of awards:
- Christian Gilson – Banquet Dessert – GOLD AND BEST IN CLASS
- Christian Gilson & Thomas Camilleri Mallia – Live High Tea – GOLD AND BEST IN CLASS
- Joan Attard – Floral Sugar Craft – GOLD AND BEST IN CLASS
- Thomas Camilleri Mallia – Local Pork – SILVER
- Jojo Joy – Entremets – SILVER
- Keith Farrugia – Underutilized Local Fish – BRONZE
Once again, we would like to wish our team members a big well done. The determination to succeed is evident, and we are happy to be able to support and have you as part of The Phoenicia Malta family. We look forward to the next edition of Malta Kulinarja!