In this podcast episode, Ariel Guivisdalsky, dives into the complexities and challenges of achieving his goal to create something doable amidst the chaos of the culinary world.
You will learn the necessary qualities, skills, and organizational strategies to become an outstanding chef.
“A chef is someone that is a leader in a kitchen, someone that creates as well as executes. It has to be your baby. It has to be your baby.”
Chef Ariel Guivisdalsky believes that a chef is someone who is a leader in the kitchen, creating and executing. Through his experience, he has seen chefs who have creative ideas but are unable to execute them. He has also had to deal with owners who don’t understand the industry and don’t pay their chefs a living wage. His last position was as the head chef of Dinner in the Sky, where he created a menu for forty-four people that included two starters, a palate cleanser, four main courses, a dessert, and side dishes. He worked sixteen hour days, plus preparation and orders during the week.
In Episode 1, you will learn the following:
1. What is the definition of a chef and how can you tell if someone is a great chef?
2. How does Chef Ariel Guivisdalsky create and execute an impressive menu in a limited kitchen space?
3. What is it like to cook in a restaurant 50 meters up in the sky?
Chef Ariel Guivi on Instagram
Mediterranean Culinary Academy on Instagram
Emily A. Francis on Instagram
The book by Emily A. Francis can be found on Amazon and booksellers everywhere.
The Taste of Joy: Mediterranean Wisdom for a Life Worth Savoring
Other episodes you’ll enjoy:
Mario Orozco: From France to Texas to New York
Connect with me:
Patreon: Inside The Pressure Cooker
Feedback: Email Me!
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Transcipt: Part 1
Hey. So welcome to kind of a new Format, where we’re breaking this episode up into two shows. Two episodes, mainly because we wanted to do justice to the entire conversation. Part one, which you’re about to listen to, is the background of Chef audio. Wonderful person to talk to.
Really enjoyed our conversation. And then part two, which is going to be released right behind this one, is a very important topic to all chefs. And if it’s not for you, it kind of should be. Over the last 20 years working in restaurants, I met a lot of really interesting people. Bourdain called us pirates and misfits, and he couldn’t be more right.
We really were I say were. We are a hodgepodge of cultures and backgrounds, and we get to play with food all day, and we get to make a living doing that, and it’s pretty damn awesome. This is what inside the Pressure Cooker is all about. It’s about making some new friends and sharing some stories with some old friends. And listen, we all know that life inside a kitchen is not for everyone.
We’ve seen plenty of people come and go that thought they could hack it and they couldn’t. It really does take a special someone not only to survive, but to really thrive in an environment of just what feels like complete fucking chaos. But it’s pretty damn controlled. And then just the constant pressure and the stupid hours you put in, not to mention it can be a very thankless job. Before you know it, it’s all in your blood, and it’s the only thing you know, and you need more.
It’s an addiction. This is the bond that all wine, cooks and chefs share. It’s becoming the heartbeat of the kitchen, as cliche as that fucking sounds. But it’s in our blood, which means it’s fucking pulsing through our veins, and it’s what we live for. This is Chad Kelly, and I’ve been slinging pants for over 25 years.
And in that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of many successful kitchen teams, many of which I had the privilege of leading. And during those final few years of my career, I found that my passion was not only just in cooking, but it was the people, and it was mentoring the next generation of chefs. You cannot create if you have no idea what you’re talking about, if you don’t understand, if you don’t walk your kitchen. How can you create something if you don’t walk your kitchen and if it’s not doable for the crisis of service? So those are the things that I’ve been learning and took me lately when I was my last head chef position that I did.
So I think it’s the definition of chef just create, but create something that it’s doable. So what is a chef to you? To me, the definition is pretty simple, but for some reason, it can be a hot topic to some people. It’s like not everybody can call themselves a chef. And it’s like it’s a title of honor.
It’s also a title of respect. So it’s okay to occasionally call somebody a chef, regardless of their status. If their passion is there and their heart is there, then it’s okay. And if you’re that worried and that pretentious about who’s a chef and who’s not, I can just relax. Nobody’s stealing any of your glory, all right?
But honestly, for me, a chef is someone that is a leader in a kitchen, someone that creates as well as executes. And here, shortly, you’re going to listen with audio about his kind of rise in the culinary world, in the Mediterranean, and his experience with chefs, his experience with chefs that could create but couldn’t execute, and him finding his place, being a chef that was creating and executing. So what is your definition? A quick interruption before we jump on to the rest of this, two things. First, there’s a link in the show notes that well, it’s not really a link, it’s my email, please.
I want to hear some feedback from you all. What do you love? What do you not love? This is how I learn. And the second part I’ve set up a patreon account for this podcast.
The link is also in the show notes below. Please, if you’re able to, we would love any contribution you’re able to support us with. We all have costs that we need to try to COVID with this show, and any sport would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
You’re based in the States, right? Yeah, I’m in Dallas area. North Texas. I don’t know how there, but the situation here of the industry in Malta and in Europe itself in general, it’s a disaster, you know what I mean? Well, Chef, let’s start.
Give me your 32nd elevator pitch. Who is Chef Ardio?
I have to say that I never called myself a chef. I still consider myself a self taught.
The thing is, I started professionally cooking only ten years ago and very fast, because the place where I lived, they were mainly small places. So I grew very fast in the industry and I became heavier very fast because of probably lack of people. And when someone does normal things or a bit better than the normal, and someone is angry to learn, so I claim up in the steps very fast. So that’s the thing. I never say Chef Ariel, although everyone called me Chef, which is very funny.
I need to take this down. Sorry. I just did the same thing. No, I get it. For me, I’ve been cooking for 20 odd years and I’ve done everything from fast food to fine dining.
But in my heart, I’m a cook. I’m just a cook. Because the thing is, I always say that a chef might not be a cook. You know what I mean? I know many chefs that they cannot hold the service.
They’re a fantastic chef. They’re a fantastic chef. Ideas and maybe from the other side of the past, but don’t put them inside on the line because they can’t hold it. And I saw it by myself, people that I had once a guy, an executive chef, that he was fantastic on ideas and developing of menus, but he was literally not able to he could forget the steak inside the oven or the pasta, thyme, things like that. You know what I mean?
That’s not bad. I mean, if you can’t execute it, then how do you plan on but. That’S the thing, I saw that many times, people that there were fantastic chefs, creativity on excellent. They could do it without the pressure, but once the pressure of service start, they couldn’t handle it. They just couldn’t handle it.
Now, for me, the definition of chef would be more someone that can both create and execute. Because to be able to create, you’ve got to be able to execute and know how things are going to execute. And if something happens, you got to be able to get in there and. You need to understand that what you are creating can be done. It’s doable according to the situation to the kitchen that you have, because that’s many things.
I have a funny story. I lived first of all, I started I born in Argentina. At the age of 19, I decided to move to Israel. I’m a Jewish guy and I moved to Israel, did the army, and I was working for the government, to be honest, in the Defense Ministry, nothing related to food. And my wife works in I gaming industry, so basically all these online casinos and sports bets and things like that.
And she got a relocation offer to move to Gibraltar, which is a small, tiny British colony in South Spain. And then I find myself actually in a very tiny place with an empty CV, because obviously whatever I did in the army Defense Ministry was not on my CV, for obvious reason. And I didn’t know what to do. So I always like to cook. And so I signed up for a reality in injury to, which is probably half percent of the budget of a normal reality in any country.
And I finished running rap, and one of the judges took me and I started making chips, fried chips, and peeling potatoes and fried chips, and giving side dishes, and then cold starters, and then from managing the starters and then doing the desserts, and then starting on desserts and then on sauce. And eventually, after about a year and a half, I became head chef in another restaurant in a pub. And funny enough, I was in the pub for about eight months. I have a discussion with the owner that they didn’t want to pay, so I didn’t have people. So he was telling me the pub was not full, and he was telling me people are not famous.
And I was blaming him. I said, Listen, bring the people. That’s your job. You bring the people. Once the people are inside, I make them happy.
And that happened. My side is happening now. If you don’t pay the guys, I will end up being okay. You want me to work alone? I can do everything.
Yes. So I’m in the past, I’m in sauce, I’m in fries, and I wash the dishes as well. But then there is a limit how many people I can feed. Yeah. So eventually I left and then cook came in, kind of someone who accepted very low money.
Sure. And I saw the idea and eventually I told the guy, listen, do you see the kitchen that we have? And he was saying, yes, but we can do this. And he said, Mate, you won’t be there. Listen, the oven has the size of my hand.
There is a limit. You can put some barriers because they’re small, they can put four or five barriers, fair enough. And then on the planch and do the other ones. But you can have fish al sale, which is whole fish with salt crust. It doesn’t fit.
It doesn’t even fit a pub either. Exactly. So eventually, what I’m saying is, talk to the chef. You cannot create if you have no idea what you’re talking about, if you don’t understand, if you don’t walk your kitchen, how can you create something if you don’t walk your kitchen and if it’s not doable for the crisis of service? So those are the things that I’ve been learning and took me lately when I was my last head chef position that I did.
So I think it’s the definition of chef. Sure. But create something, that it’s doable.
You’ve got to be one with the restaurant. Yeah.
You’ve got to be as much a part of it as it’s a part of you. It has to be your baby. It has to be your baby. I mean, I understand, for better or. For worse, in sickness and in health, that’s the thing.
The problem is that here comes the other thing. And it’s when the owners, that in many times I’m not going to say most, but in many times, they have no clue and they are just business people and they don’t understand. And then eventually, because we theft, we consider the cooking. So more like, it’s not just a job, it’s a job, it’s a hobby, it’s a passion, it’s something that represents us. So we end up overwhelming, underpaying, underpaid.
And the default becomes that. Yeah, you need to be here 1213 14 hours. Why not? Which is you know what I mean? I remember when someone told me, well, you will have one and a half days leave.
And I said, one and a half. Yeah, you just come in the morning. You just come in the morning.
That’s not half, that’s a day, you. Know what I mean? But that’s the thing, but in the industry that some people were saying, yeah, that’s just one and a half day, because you don’t do split shift. You just come in the morning. And in my head was like, no, dude, you’re wrong here.
You know what I mean? You’re wrong. You can’t see that.
Oh, no, I get you. Your last spot was where you’re cooking. Was that dinner in the sky? Yes, that was my last job as head chef. Man tell me about that.
That’s crazy. Basically, that could be probably the most logistically complicated thing that I ever did because it is an outside catering in terms of the organization, but it’s an outside catering based on another outside catering because you arrive to the place, at least here in Malta. I don’t know how it is along in like 50 countries. And I am sure I’m sure that each country is different. I mean, I saw Michelin star chef cooking in the sky.
So obviously we didn’t get a star because we only operated for six months. So I assume that one of the criteria is being an ongoing restaurant, but didn’t apply here in Malta. During winter, you cannot do it. In fact, even during summer, sometimes, since it’s an island, the wind doesn’t let you go up. But in any case, so basically, back to how to create a menu.
So I did two years. I did two years. The first year, I was just hired just to deliver the service. So I was receiving all the food preparations and everything, and I was just delivering the service. And then we won several prices.
And they believed that something most of them, some of them, they were related to me, and they offered me take over everything, all the cooking and logistics and everything from that. So we’re talking about the first thing I did was create a menu. So I needed to again, since I had already experienced I understand how the kitchen is. So I changed completely the menu. As I give an example, the first year, everything was hot.
So I spoke to my executive chair and told him, listen, let’s think. Let’s focus on plating. We are giving fine dining experience. People are paying a lot of money and they’re seeing us and what they see. They want to see what they see on YouTube or what they see on TV.
They want to see fancy stuff. They want to see plating. They want to see all this show that we did. So basically, I changed the start as we moved it to Cold. So everything was pre done.
So I was just needed to take it and played it. So I was focusing more on the plating. So people were the first impression was the wow. The show. And then so we also created the whole option, vegan option.
So we had nice because we expanded the menu to two different options. Of starters, Anamus Bush was a molecular sphere a cocktail in a sphere made with calcific and holistic. And then we had two type of studies.
So we had one with fish, one vegetarian, or was vegan, in fact, so we could cater for anyone. And then we had a palate cleanser, which also we did vegan. And then we had four different main courses. So we had fish, we had a bird, we had beef, and we had the vegan option and vegetable option. And then we have a dessert, which was also gluten free, was lactose free, but had eggs.
So for the vegans, we used to do fruit salad. So basically think that I am talking about two starters. So sphere, two star trees, cleanser, four main courses and dessert, plus potatoes and vegetables for the side dishes. Sure. That for 22 people twice.
So it’s 44 Friday, Saturday, Sunday, plus extra of everything just in case someone changed someone this I don’t know, whatever it is. Yeah. Plus you’re executing all this at 40 meters up? Well, that’s the thing. And that you need to execute all that.
Yes, 50 meters above, you know, hanging in a crane with a small home oven and two burners because the other two in the back were moved to place stuff like spoons and things like that. Okay, so you had just a little. Tiny oven and then the small oven where you’re you need to warm up your plates as well. Okay. Again, because we find it’s a fine lining.
So that’s why the first thing I thought was started need to be cold. Because then you need the room. It’s impossible. Basically, it’s that I used to go there Friday, Saturday, Sunday, used to work about 16 hours every day. Plus during the week, all the preparations, all the orders.
I was doing all the orders, all the preparations, and obviously I have my staff and everything, but it’s really tough. I mean, you need to mount the preorder of the food because people, they need to pre order many times. There is no pre order many times.
And then you need to have just in case for everything. Yeah. What happens when extra people show up? You only got 22 seats, though. Yes, but when you have an owner like the one that I used to have, I remember once, I think I wrote you once, was full service, 22 seats.
And then the owner came and then he said, oh, I brought some two friends. And we were like, don’t worry, don’t worry. So basically, imagine a table around and inside, in the middle you have me, another chef, the host, and on the side you have waiters to serve the people in the corner. So the owner decided that he comes up with two guests. So the two guests standing up next to the waiters on the side.
Okay. So basically I needed to have food for 25 because I need to give him as well, even if he said no. So start thinking about how fragile are all those cocktail spheres. And I need to have for everyone, okay, one food portions, there is a limit how many they trade. For example, for the fish we had trade, there is a limit how much like that.
Like this. Everything just goes out the window. Yeah, not only that, how many times I was serving the fish. And then the guy next to, let’s say the lady or the I don’t know, beef. And then was like, wow, the fish looks amazing.
Can I have the fish instead of the beef? 40 meters hanging in the grain. Food hot already. Everything is there. If you want anything, it’s down there, you need to bring it cold.
So all portions, there were always one or two extra. Just for that reason. Just for that reason. So food cost, it needs to be super tight, super tight, super controlled, because otherwise you spend too much.
And then one day I used to do beef, beef rips, beef short, rips, sou vide. And then slow was very tender. And I ended up having I think it was the day that the owner brought another two guys. So I had extra beef, but I didn’t have enough. Obviously there was already all warm already to go up, so it was too big.
So I cut it in half somehow, so they don’t see me. And from one I made two. And again, and I’m going to say that again, 40 or 50 meters hanging in a crane. And the distance between me and the guest is, I don’t know, 50 size of a table, 60 CM. They see everything.
You can hide. Once the chef who was with me, somebody asked for the fish, no sauce. And then he was a bit, I don’t know. And then he put sauce everywhere. And I’m like, Look, I said I said, one, no sauce.
You see, he’s putting down, change the plate, put the plate in the oven, take the fish, scrap the sauce, flip it so they don’t see, you know what I mean? And then make another boat and send like that, hundreds.
Once they brought once the same owner, don’t take me wrong, the owner, he was also a chef and everything. He’s a fantastic businessman. And I don’t know, personally, I don’t have anything against him. The opposite, I still in touch with him and everything. One day he brought a two Michelin star chef from Singapore.
He was visiting motor. He was visiting motor. And they decided to do something together, blah, blah, blah. And one day, before I got to know that he will come to do the service with me in the sky. Now, with all what I’m telling you, you can understand that if you’ve never been in a service and dinner in the sky, it is super complicated for me to explain you, because everything is time.
Everything is time wise. The service is one and a half hour the service is one and a half hours. Then I have 20 minutes in between the first and the second one to set up again, and then another one and a half hour. So if for any reason there is a delay, I’m not going to say the word, but I’m fucked. You know what I mean?
Yeah, no, I was looking at that, too. I mean, like being 40, 50 meters up in a very small space, you’ve got everything preset. You only got an hour and a half to execute, and everything is time. It’s almost 112345. It’s a five course meal.
Plus we used to do at the end, nitrogen, the Moncello. So we used to do like a sorbet with liquid nitrogen as a show. So it’s kind of a six course meal in one and a half hours, hanging in the air. And I needed to explain to a two minute minister restaurant guy, to a chef who probably last time he was in a service like that was when he was, I don’t know, 15. Yeah, right.
The guy has a restaurant with five tables. That’s what he knows. And I needed to brought him to the mud. But listen, mad. Mad.
Really, the mad. And we succeed. At the end, we succeed. And the guy sat down and told me after, in between the services, he was sitting and eating the leftovers and blah, blah, blah and stuffed food and things like that. And then eventually he told me, I don’t understand how you do this.
I really don’t know how you do that.
I just show you how. It’s impressive. It is very difficult. Yes, it is very difficult. But it was done.
It passed. It gave me a reputation here in Malta. It gave me the courage to understand that at the end, it’s just food. It’s just food. It’s not life or death.
It’s just food. We need to do all the best. And I have to say that this owner, that he’s in all details of all his restaurants, he only came to visit six times in six months. And when I asked him, Why is he not coming? He told me, I don’t need to go.
So you know what I mean? So that’s that’s all on on me at the end of the day. Yeah. It’s a beautiful thing, man. Yeah, that well, that’s the thing.
That’s when the owners come to you and tells you, because at the end, I ask for more money. First of all, I told him, Let me take care of okay, I show you. I proved you let me take over everything. I do all the organization. Let’s bring another chef.
I’m not taking a step back. But the opposite. I will take care of everything and I need more money. And blah, blah, blah. And then it’s when they said, no, but you don’t need your money.
You enjoy what you’re doing. So it’s like you work from something that you like. So you’re not working, you’re enjoying it’s. Your hobby.
You don’t pay the bills with a hobby. No, but then I had another offer on my table, and this is when I said, okay, thank you, but I’m going to do that.
Makes sense. Yeah, they understand. And they understood. And I was lucky enough to do that in January 2019. So imagine.
Imagine. Yeah, the timing was there. The timing was there. The timing was there. I could have been two years or two and a half years without the job and forget it because I didn’t want to go back to the kitchen, as we said.
Go back? I’m already 40. Go back to the shifts and things like that with the family.
It’s not ideal. No, not at all. So, I mean, how did COVID impact Malta? I have to say that the impact here was very low. At the beginning, things, they were locked, they were closed.
But we were never in a completely locked down. Okay. We could go out here and there. I’m not talking about traveling since that. Also, again, it’s an island, so there isn’t anywhere to go.
The government gave out vouchers to spend in the local industry and local businesses. That helped most of the restaurants, even including fine dining and including Michelin Star restaurants, they turn into takeaway. They used to send takeaway with instructions on how to reheat or things like that. I tried them all. It was no good.
I don’t know. Yeah, it was no good. I know that in the state habit, I mean, I follow linea and other things, and I know that Grant was doing the videos on how to reheat and regenerate the food that was sending. Look, even for me, which I don’t really need instructions, to be honest, to regenerate a meal. It was not done.
Correct. It’s very hard. In my opinion, they needed to go lower. But then if you have a Michelin Star restaurant, you can’t not send the food that is expected.
I don’t know if I’d expect a Michelin Star experience in food if I’m ordering it all take away. I agree. But on the other hand, that’s what people were expected. Like, okay, I’m more than in from, for example, Noni, which is they have one Michelin Star restaurant here. I know the chef.
He’s an amazing guy. And he also was on my Teslas. I interview him. Okay.
He was trying to deliver as a takeaway with instructions, with everything, and put the oven like this, and blah, blah, blah, and simplify. But at the end, you know what I mean? It’s not there. The experience is not there. So I think they should have go to what I believe it’s the best, which is simple food taste.
Just simple food, local produce and do it, taste it. That’s it. Yes. Because at that point, too, people just wanted comfort, right. Whether it’s through the food and everything else, it’s just they needed something more soul warming and stuff, so it didn’t have to be fancy.
No, I agree. Now, the thing is, in Malta, in terms of the industry, the funny thing is that and I entered in a few details of my dissertation, is that during COVID most of the people turning to the local, to the farmers and mainly to the local farmers. And the local market grew and people were buying and things like that. As soon as the border opens, everything went back as it was.
It’s incredible. Incredible. Same people that they used to go to, the farmer, they kept going, but all the new guys back to the comfort life of supermarkets or big chains. As soon as the convenience came back. Convenience, yeah.
Still, I think the takeaway food grew exponentially. And it’s incredible the amount of people ordering food from home. But normal food, like normal takeaway stuff. But there’s pizza, pasta maybe, which is weird. I don’t know who ordered pasta from takeaway, but anyway, it’s going to be overcooked.
But anyway, you know what I mean? But then what happened is that a lot of these takeaway apps, they added grocery by fishmonger butcher everywhere from the app. You can buy all your groceries, you can buy all the supermarkets turn into online shopping, online buying. A lot of farmers, supposedly, they turn into the online selling as well. Although, back again, if you go online and it says, I’m not going to say the name of the company, but if you say local farmers from Older, why you’re selling bananas?
How can you sell a banana if you’re a local farmer? Or mango. We’re still in the Mediterranean. Where are you bringing the mango from?
Yeah, no, we get that here. It’s kind of almost a running joke with the farmers market in our area. It doesn’t actually have any actual farmers from the area. It might have someone.
I don’t think there’s any produce. We might have some local chickens, the honey. There might be one or two small ranchers, but that’s it. But I mean, the market itself is fairly large and it’s stall after stall after stall of all the same thing. And it’s all produced from whether it’s Mexico or Florida, I mean, wherever it’s coming from at that time.
And it looks beautiful, but this isn’t a local thing. There’s no local board here. The farmers market, it is 100% local, that’s for sure. But it’s only physically. They don’t sell online.
Now, the people selling online, they’re telling you, we are the farmers. And I know them. That’s the thing. I know them. But they are.
I’ll give you an example with the Academy, where I teach. One of our workshops is olive harvesting, and we create our own olive oil, the Maltese indigenous olive, which is thousands of years old. The name is Bitney. That’s the type of oil of olive. And obviously, I know the farmers.
And the funny thing. Is that the farmer I speak to, his cousin is one of the biggest importers of fruit and vegetables for supply retail. And I’m asking him why he’s not selling local. I was in the restaurant or in where I work. I was managing a whole office payment solution office, that they have a canteen for the employees.
So I was managing everything, including the canteen. And I was buying from this guy who’s the cousin of the farmer of the Olive, and he’s not selling any local things. And I was asking him, is your cousin you have a lot of things, why he’s not offering local? Why? You know what?
Let’s say that he wants to be imported. I don’t know. I know why, because those are the conclusion of my dissertation. But at least favor the local product over the importer. I can’t understand in an island so small that a Cauliflower from abroad costs you less than a Cauliflower from here.
Now I understand. Okay. Because there is not enough. Okay? But if there is not enough, sell whatever it is and that’s it.
Done. But can’t be that importing something, it’s cheaper than growing here.
I can’t understand that. How’s that for a cliffhanger? So we’re going to pick up this conversation in part two. Jump onto that one when you’ve got the time. And thank you for listening to this episode of Inside the Pressure Cooker.
If you enjoyed this episode and feel like you’re able to take something away from it, please go to Apple podcasts and rate and review us. If you don’t use Apple podcast, please follow us as well as share this episode with a friend. This is a publication by Rare Plus Media, hosted and produced by me from Rare Plus Media and myself, Chad Kelly. Thank you for listening. Keep kicking ass.
Transcript: Part 2
Hey, and welcome back to Part Two with Chef Ardio. Over the last 20 years working in restaurants, I met a lot of really interesting people. Bourdain called us pirates and misfits, and he couldn’t be more right. We really were. I say were.
We are a hodgepodge of cultures and backgrounds, and we get to play with food all day and we get to make a living doing that, and it’s pretty damn awesome. This is what inside the Pressure Cooker is all about. It’s about making some new friends and sharing some stories with some old friends. And listen, we all know that life inside a kitchen is not for everyone. We’ve seen plenty of people come and go that thought they could hack it and they couldn’t.
It really does take a special someone not only to survive, but to really thrive in an environment of just what feels like complete fucking chaos. But it’s pretty damn controlled. And then just the constant pressure and the stupid hours you put in, not to mention it can be a very thankless job. Before you know it, it’s all in your blood and it’s the only thing you know and you need more. It’s an addiction.
This is the bond that all wine, cooks and chefs share. It’s becoming the heartbeat of the kitchen, as cliche as that fucking sounds. But it’s in our blood, which means it’s fucking pulsing through our veins, and it’s what we live for. This is Chad Kelly, and I’ve been slinging pants for over 25 years. And in that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of many successful kitchen teams, many of which I had the privilege of leading.
And during those final few years of my career, I found that my passion was not only just in cooking, but it was the people. And it was mentoring the next generation of chefs. A quick interruption before we jump on to the rest of this, two things. First, there’s a link in the show Notes that well, it’s not really a link, it’s my email. Please, I want to hear some feedback from you all.
What do you love? What do you not love? This is how I learn. And the second part I’ve set up a patreon account for this podcast. The link is also in the show notes below.
Please, if you’re able to, we would love any contribution you’re able to support us with. We all have costs that we need to try to COVID with this show, and any sport would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
You’re based in the States, right? Yeah, I’m in Dallas area. North Texas. I don’t know how there, but the situation here of the industry in Malta and in Europe itself in general, it’s a disaster, you know what I mean? This was just a brief snippet from our conversation when we started talking a.
Little bit about the impacts of COVID on Malta and where it’s out today, but it can easily apply to the. Conversation that’s about to happen. Hopefully you love the first part, but this one breaks down something that Chef Ariel is very passionate about, and hopefully. All chefs are passionate about. And it’s really about our food supply.
And the concept of buying local seems pretty simple, right? But once again, it never really is. We all know that it’s not as. Simple as it should be. So before we get too far into this as well so we’re getting into your dissertation, your thesis here.
And why did you I mean, obviously you’re very passionate about it, but what was this thesis for? Basically, since I was working and didn’t in the sky, and it was mainly hold for six months, the season, during the summertime. And then I said, okay, let’s study. Okay. I’ve been a head chef.
I am a head chef, but I don’t have those beginning basic skills, or at least the theory behind that. Let’s go and study. Let’s do. And I check. And here they allow me to do a bachelor’s degree.
So basically, it’s a kind of university title, university degree, which is over three years. And then I said yes. Why not? So I was studying winter, fall, and I was working mainly during the summertime. So time was perfect.
So obviously then it took a bit longer than normal. It took me four years because in between what’s covered inside and part of the degree was I spent four months in Institute Paul, because I spent four months intensive in Institute Pulpus.
But then we flew when COVID was here, COVID started and then back, and then what we do, and then again, so it takes a bit longer. The last thing that I needed, I needed to do the test is a dissertation of 15,000 words, because it’s a degree. It’s a bachelor’s degree with honors.
So that’s part of it. And unfortunately, I failed the first one, to be honest. And I needed to do another one.
It was meant to fail.
I started as part time job, full time study, and I end up full time study plus full time work, plus another part time work, plus everything. And it was really complicated. But yeah, was part of it was done. Graduate and everything is perfect. How did you choose this topic in the topics exploring the usage of local products within hospitality business in Malta?
So, as I said first, I failed my first test, which was based on ethical consumption. I truly consider myself an ethical consumer, which means that it’s related to the local produce. But I do think twice before I buy any food related produce. For example, buying avocado, it’s actually supporting not only the fact that avocado kills the soil, but it uses a lot of water, but it’s also supporting the labor laws in countries where the avocado is grown. And some countries, we know that there are kids working in there, and it’s a bit shady, let’s call it.
So I don’t buy that unless, for example, here we receive avocado from Spain, from the Canadian islands. Fair enough. Okay, no problem. So failing the ethical consumption, Texas doesn’t matter. Why?
To be honest, I didn’t really do many things.
I still wanted to stay on something similar with that. Sure, this makes sense. Then I said, okay, let’s see. One of the main goals of the academy where I teach is that we use only local products in terms of fruit, vegetables and proteins. Obviously spices, there is a limit, how can you use?
But we try to use only local product in terms of that. So I said, if this is something I’m dealing with every day, let’s focus on that. And then I decided to do that and try to understand why, if we as an academy can do that, are the restaurant doing it? Because I don’t see it on the menus. Here in Malta, unfortunately, we live in an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, and 85% of the restaurants, they have seabass farmed and salmon in the menu.
And I can’t understand why we have salmon in the menu. Sibas, I understand it’s locally grown, farmed fed, it off, but it’s local. At least it’s from here. At least from here. But why salmon?
And the answer is because that’s what people like. I said, but that’s not what people like.
That’s what you are offering. So that’s what they choose. Why? If you offer something else?
Exactly. It is a complicated topic, and for me it was important because that’s what I do. You know what I mean?
I don’t buy my house, for example, unless my kids really, really want maybe once every, but usually I don’t. So, yeah, I mean, when it comes to local versus the imported, how much of it is just business decision for. More of the tourist market? Because Malta is kind of heavy on the tourist market, right, where they’re almost you go there and they’re offering stuff that it’s just tourist trap crap. Exactly.
But that’s the thing. There is an increase, extremely increase in all Europe on the food tourism, people who want to buy local stuff. Then you arrive to Malta, and if a foodie arrives to Malta, it will be hard to find where to eat local food. And I’m not talking about traditional Maltese food, because that’s there is traditional Maltese food. I’m talking about that you go to any restaurant, whatever middle range here you have high end, which are good, not hardly using local product, the middle range are bad.
And then you have the low GestIC kiosk in the street, whatever, which those are quite good because they sell traditional Maltese street food, which is fine, but in the middle, which is the normal people used to usually go, most of them are tourist oriented. What they believe the tourists want, or what they found that the tourists want. That’s what it is. They all have steaks. Argentinian, Rebuke.
Now. I’m argentinian. I don’t buy Argentina meat. I don’t buy Argentina meat because it pissed me off that they bring it from there, you know what I mean? I try to buy it.
For example, there is a breed in Italy called Scottona, which is a type of cow. So I buy that. It’s slated in Sicily, which is 40 minutes in the ferry. It’s loaded. And in Sicily, it’s not locally grown, but it’s there.
Or else I buy a lot more. Local than Argentina, of course, that’s the thing. Or else I even buy malt is locally grown beef. I think they slaughter here, maybe two cows per week, something, maybe three. But I die from a butcher that they have, you know what I mean?
And I try to buy things that all the rest of the people they don’t buy because I know, because I have the knowledge or the experience or whatever. But at least I know my head is quiet that I did myself as much as I can to keep them on the same situation. And yes, most of the restaurants here, unfortunately, they sell what the general crap tourists want. So part of the restaurant review that I do, we do restaurants review for free. Me and an American lady that she has a lot of she also wrote a book coming out soon.
She is a foodie and I’m the chef, so it’s called The Foodie and the Chef on Tour. And we actually try to find small places that they do something specific with local products, but they don’t have a lot of potential for marketing. So we go with obviously they give us the food and we’ll write a review. And we posted a magazine, which is tourist oriented magazine. Okay?
So that way, because we both have foreigners and I found a lot of places that I never heard about them. Living in Malta for almost six years, I never hear about them because they’re more on the local market. Exactly. Or it’s not very popular or things like that. And we try to showcase that.
That’s cool. That’s a lot more what I’d look for. Although so much of like when I would travel, when I see stuff in magazines I thought I knew. But it’s all paid placement. Some of them, yes.
The thing is, again, the balcony that we work is it is tourist oriented, but it’s not the magazine of the airport, you know what I mean? You won’t find it on the airline.
You will find it on the airport and it’s for free, but it’s not in the airline, you know what I mean? There is a difference. I love all those, like, best seafood or best steaks and wherever. It’s just an ad and it’s not actually produced by anybody other than the company.
And the good thing is that with us, you actually read it’s. A whole review about the place about how we found it, what we think, what we had, what they have, what they offer.
Sometimes we don’t even agree. I mean, the lady we went to a place, they do their own fried calamari. Obviously, here there is plenty of calamari, and usually me, personally, I like very thin coat of flour. And this lady, she likes more butter, kind of more British butter, kind of. And at the place here, the place that we went, they do like that.
And she was in love. And I said, well, you see, I don’t like it. I mean, as a chef, I can tell you it’s very good, it’s well done, but I prefer the thin one. And we try to showcase that. They have a special recipe that comes from ages and ages with the same butter, the same calamari, the same thing.
And the calamari that he buys is from the next door lady that she sells in the fish market. So all those things we try to. Do no, that’s great. Yeah. So we’re kind of getting away from your thesis a little bit here.
No, this is good. I think it’s all relevant as well. So your thesis you went through, you interviewed five people in different elements, right? Yeah, ideally, what we did is I interview from Michelin Star restaurant, five star hotel, until a small takeaway shop, everyone, at least I tried to understand, cover the spectrum. Yeah, it’s cover all the spectrum.
I could have done it more with more people, but unfortunately, some, they tell you, no, we only give you one, or blah, blah, blah. Because my idea was like, we took a five star hotel. Okay, so I spoke to the executive chef, but what about the purchase manager? Or what about the Somalia? You know what I mean?
There are many savings, but they decided that just one person. And I covered all the spectrum of all the options. So I didn’t want it to do two places on the same range. Kind of makes sense. It’s pointless.
So, yes, we did that in each one and yes. So was there anything about it that surprised you, like, after you collected everything? Well, for example, I have to say that it really surprised me. The Michelin Star restaurant, the five star hotel, I assume that they would mainly focus on importance because they buy big bikes and things like that. Yeah, that one didn’t surprise me.
But again but the Michelin Star resident, I was expecting that one of the criteria to have a Michelin Star is like, you focused on mostly on local produce. And unfortunately, I know, and he told me my proteins cannot be local because the quality is not there.
He’s telling you the quality is not there. And then the vegetables at the end, the season is so short, or sometimes I just can’t which in my head was, okay, if it’s short, use two weeks. Cauliflower another two weeks. I don’t know another thing, another two weeks, another thing. Just change it.
That’s stylish. Fair enough. You know what I mean? Okay. You need to focus on your proteins, and for any reason you don’t use local.
Okay, but all the rest.
Yeah, no, I get that. The middle range restaurant seem to be. More focused on because I choose one specific one middle range that they claim to be traditional Maltese food. And I said, okay, your traditional Maltese food, what are your ingredients? And happily they are using specifically.
And he told me I pay more, but I use local. I pay more for sunried tomatoes. That is done by my uncle, my cousin, whoever, you know what I mean?
The capers I buy here remotely, there is a lot of wild capers, so you can go actually in the countryside and pick them up. And he said, I prefer to use this one, even if I pay more than buy a bulk of ten kilo from somewhere. And that’s it. And that was very good. And that was what I wanted to listen, you know what I mean?
And I also have on the high end end restaurant, there’s a high end restaurant, the one that I interviewed, that they were just open. They just nearly open. And they claim in fact, I see that they don’t use anything from abroad. And in fact, lately I came to know that there is a guy growing sugar cane in Montana, and there is a lady growing stevia, and they were all sold to this restaurant. Really?
Yes, yes. So he’s doing his own he was doing his own flour from local train, and he now is having his own kind of drying stevia plants for him for sweetener. And someone was growing sugar. Someone is growing local avocados now as well in Malta. Okay.
Which is funny. I mean, we’re talking about an island that the size of I mean, you are from Texas, so probably it’s all Malta. It’s one third of a neighborhood, probably super small.
It looks like increase at the end. My main focus was always on my main idea, my main goal for both cases is that if you increase the demand at the end, the supply will come, the consumers have the chance to actually change, but if they don’t demand it, we will keep seeing here salmon and sibas everywhere.
Well, I mean, that’s kind of that I mean, we’re almost talking like, what came first, the chicken or the egg no. I agree. Yeah, definitely. So there’s a combination of you’ve got to have the demand, right? And then you’ve got to have the support from the public as well as just ownership that’s going to pay for it and then be able to find that middle ground as far as pricing structures, because it feels like pricing is such a weird thing that everybody is trying to compete with the big corporate places or just your chains.
And it’s like okay? We’ll never be able to compete with that as a smaller restaurant. So just stop right. Stop trying to be that place that you don’t want to be. Exactly.
Stop comparing yourself to that, too. I believe that, unfortunately, many restaurants, they don’t understand marketing, so they open and they don’t understand what’s the target market. They don’t know how to focus. They don’t do segmentation. They don’t understand all these words, all those words that I learned them during my degree.
And I know that fair enough. And that’s why I believe that having a degree I’m not just saying having a small course of cooking. Now, you want to do you want to manage a restaurant, you have to study or you have to have the money to pay someone who studied to managing for you, because you can’t open a burger place. You know what I mean? As it happens here.
But the thing is, again, here, every burger place that starts, that opens, they copy what they understand, and you end up having a takeaway burger place with Ruffle Burger man. Now, the problem is that people ordering that saying, oh, I’m having a burger with travel. No, they bought a sauce which has no travel at all, just some essence, and they put it to you and they sell them to you. So the lack of knowledge now, what I’m saying is, as a restaurant here, why are you putting that or you know what? Back to the fish option.
You want to have salmon because people like salmon. You want to have seabass because okay, have three have local fish of the day, sea bass or salmon. But at least you’re trying. Now, you said I mean, because you. Said yeah, as I say, you’re in the Mediterranean.
You’re in the island in the Mediterranean. Exactly. Seafood should not be in a problem. No, I mean, you’ve got beautiful seafood where you’re at. It is it is a problem.
I mean, salmon is is like that’s just a shot in the face. It is. It is a problem. It is a huge problem here, because, unfortunately, this is something I talked to my fishmonger, and he’s telling me the fish guys, first of all, the lower during COVID or whatever, they stop going, and many change, and they don’t go anymore. And those who go, they sail to the area of Sicily or even Greece, and they sell there.
They sail, they catch whatever they can, and they don’t bring the top quality to Malta. They sell the second or the third quality to Malta on the same price that they sell the top quality in Sicily. So we pay more for less quality.
And then you go, you take a ferry or you take a plane for 45 minutes, 550 minutes, you’re landing Napoli, and you have the best seafood ever in your life. It all came from Malta, and it’s the same sea. It’s the same sea. You know what I mean, it’s exactly the same sea. I’m not talking about I don’t know.
Andalusia in Spain and Tel Aviv. Okay? It’s all Mediterranean. It’s all Mediterranean. Fair enough.
But the current things heat, blah, blah. But Sicily, anonymous. There is people that they do swimming, that they swim that you know what I mean? So it’s crazy. It’s crazy.
It is a sort of what first demand or the offer? I believe the if you as a restaurant here, try to offer something. I’m not talking about change the the whole mind, but one step at a time. As Rocky Balboa used to say. One step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time.
I 100% agree with that. Because you’re not going to get the best quality if nobody is going to buy it or if you’re not trying if they see the support, the farmers and your fishmongers. Absolutely. Why wouldn’t they want to bring the money home? And also, the government is here.
It has a huge I mean, I am a liberal. I don’t like government to impose or to enter in that in terms of economy. I’m not trying to regulate prices or the opposite, but promote. Promote. Now, don’t promote only in the multistelevision in Maltese, because there is about half a million people living in Malta, probably 150,000, 200,000 are foreigners.
Now, if you don’t understand that, then keep doing advertising multistelvision that nobody sees. Because anyway, nobody sees. Yeah, just so many things, I’m thinking. But even then, smart government is when you try to protect the business and your agriculture, and that’s imposing, whether it’s tariffs or something, taxes on products that you can get in Malta. Exactly.
But then is imported, and then all of a sudden, it creates a fair market value. Again, personal opinion. I don’t like that. I don’t like all these things, you know what I mean? But at least try to make you know what the Minister of Tourism, tourism is one of the most important industries in motor.
Combine food with tourism.
Well, are you familiar with how Pad Thai was created? Pad Thai? No. From Thailand. Yeah, I know.
Right. So it was created through tourism when they were in the process of changing their name from, like Siam to Thailand and what is what we call Thailand. And they were looking for a dish that represented their culture and just who they are as a people. Right. They wanted something to help define their identity and their culture.
So they had a national competition to create the next national dish. And so Pad Thai was created out of a competition to create a national dish that represented who they were. Well, that’s the thing, okay? There is national dishes. There is whatever you want, but promote it.
Showcase, showcase the local produce.
Listen, there is DOP on Jesus in Malta. There is DOP on Jesus and nobody knows. There is dok, which is dok in wines. It’s like DOP, but in Maltese. Okay?
The wines here are not bad.
They are not burgundy Pinot Noir, but they’re not bad. They are good. I choose, most of the time, local multi wine when I go out to eat. But that’s me. My wife always complains about that anyway.
But again but you know what? But you know what? There is a wine here. There is a wine here fantastic. And they have amazing olive oil.
But you need to spend in a restaurant almost 100 euro per bottle, man. We’re still talking about Malta, you know what I mean? It’s not a premier crew, it’s a wine from Malta. So, with all due respect, you need to understand that. Now, I don’t know if it’s a winery or if they’re a restaurant, but someone in the middle is doing something wrong.
Because how do they mark so wine in Europe, in those countries? How is that priced? I don’t know how I don’t know. To be honest. I don’t know how to price this.
Look, the winery, I can check. I don’t really know. I have someone who works in winery and contact with him. He came as a student. He came to win.
But the problem here is that there is not enough. There is not a lot. So the cost is high, and I understand that. But still, your price cannot be the same as a premier crew from Chablis, you know what I mean? With all my respect, it’s not you can’t you know, a Chevy Premium crew cost €120.
Your white wine has to cost no more than 50 because you’re not there. Even if you are amazing, you’re not there. Now, then there is a problem with cost wise, because amount or whatever, I don’t know, change your market, you know what I mean? I don’t know. Do something else.
But I’m not buying that. It’s too much. Yeah, that’s a lot for a local wine. That is going to be good. But like you said, is it that level?
That’s a thing. That’s the thing.
There are a lot of things and bringing this forward, and I think it’s a trend going on in all Europe. What’s happening.
What’S going on everywhere, but. Mainly with the local product. It’s like the prices are getting crazy with the war, mainly, okay? And then people try to go, but it’s a mix of convenience and prices, you know what I mean? People now, they work too much.
And all through the computer, in 30 minutes, you have all your order. The next day you have delivery on your home. And it’s sad, but it is what it is.
The war in Ukraine right now, what’s been the biggest impact, price wise? What items? I know grain was a huge export. Grain. Grain is a huge oil.
Oil as well. I I remember I remember paying the 2026 25 liters, you know, Jericho of frying oil. Sorry, speaking liters. But that’s that’s what I know. I think they know how many gallons are.
We used to pay €26 for the 25 liters. And the last offer I received, when I still used to deal with all these bulk, it was 75 €75 per 25 liter, from 26 to 75. And that’s the price, and it doesn’t go down.
And we’re talking about vegetable oil, which based on soybeans and whatever. Soybean canola. Vegetable oils, yes, oil. Oil, definitely grains and flowers as well. And again, grains are the impact in animals.
So animal feed, I volunteered in a horse rescue place, and the animal feed went up dramatically. Even the hay, even buying hay, it’s hot. Yeah, because once you short something else, you’re going to put pressure on the other spot. It’s a whole cycle of complication.
Well, let’s hope this gets wrapped up sooner. Yes. Later. I hope so. The thing is, we stopped hearing in the news, you know what I mean?
They still fighting. It was okay all over the news a couple of days. That’s it.
So let’s talk shelf life. And in marketing, you brought up marketing.
I read this in your thesis, and it kind of annoyed me, not because it was in there, but because I see the same thing here. That shouldn’t be an issue, but when people are saying the local produce would just come in a bag, and it wasn’t, like, properly marketed, and I’m like, well, okay, one, I’m already paying more for something. Because the concept of local is also the concept of sustainability, which you talk about. Right. But sustainability means it has a positive impact on that farmer, his family, the environment, and the economy.
And all the feedback that I receive is that every local product is just put it in a bag and look like disgusting thing. Mainly proteins. That’s the thing they send you proteins. Not even wrapped up the packages. It’s just a bag, or whatever.
That could be an easy fix. It’s like, hey, you want me to wrap this up in something? Fine. But stuff, shouldn’t it just be put into these fancy packages just for you to later take out? I agree.
But again, look, when you bring imported things, that’s how they come. They come in fence.
It’s designed to be on a store. It’s designed and grown to look pretty on a store shelf. Yes, and I agree. The thing is and that’s something that was telling me, the guy from the hotel, and he was telling me, it can’t be that I ordered chicken, and I said, okay, you know what? Bring me local chicken, and I receive a plastic box, kind of with, like, ten or 15 chickens, one on top of each other with a bag, and just like that.
Okay, don’t fancy wrap it. Don’t fancy wrap it, but at least wrap it properly. Don’t bring me a disgusting box where the blood of the liquids are falling. You know what I mean? Because that’s.
What happened. And the thing and what I see here what I see here is that I don’t want to say the health and an environment has an impact. Or people in Moza, they live somehow, you know, the age of the where we all were eating with our hands after touching the mud. But in many, many situations it is in many situations it is like that. And you say that okay, I’d like local, but at least don’t package it with a plastic box or those white material.
I forgot how to say that in English. Those white trays. Plastic white, yes. Terror phone with clean thing. Okay, don’t can you vacuum it?
For example, take a vacuum bag, put the chicken, vacuum them, even if the bones break the bag. You know what? At least it will not start licking, smelling in the box.
That concept, it’s not understandable. I mean, is it like a generational gap? I think it’s generational gap. In my opinion, it’s generational gap. Because even here when I go to a farmer’s market, I don’t expect anything.
I go with my bag on my plastic bag, big one. Just put everything inside. I don’t go home. Fair enough. Sure.
When you buy from a farmer at home, they bring you fancy things, box, carbon box with paper bags inside.
Okay. You know what I mean? If you’re a farmer, you bring me a box so you don’t make dirty fairness. Okay, but why adding more papers and more and more bars and more inside and everything? I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because of me. Maybe people like it more, people like it less. And it’s all about marketing and how I’m fancy and how it’s done. I’m saying that it cannot be such a difference between what you come from abroad, it’s so fancy packaged and some dated and everything. And then here you buy again back to the chickens.
There’s not even date on the packages, just in the bag. No. And that’s it. And that’s sad because when I buy my chickens or my beef from the local butcher, there is date and there is everything. So why the retail?
Not you know what I mean? Why not? Why? Because I pay more and then you know what I mean?
I don’t know. Yeah, that’s the tricky part because out here we have to have USDA is involved with everything. So it’s part of that government oversight and it’s become very restrictive. So like a local chicken farmer, after everything’s said and done in one processing, it’s more to process a chicken than what they can almost sell it for. Right?
That’s the tough part because the processing can create more of a dirtier environment as well here than a natural where they would be doing working outdoors.
So there’s a lot of elements to it that create more costs, even though they’re going to have a better quality product, healthier product, because it’s not going to have all the elements to it and everything’s sold. They’re almost harvesting just what’s sold, or they’re going to sell it, freeze it, and then take it to market.
But they can’t compete with pricing. Just like we talk about out here. We’ve got the costco is like those big markets, and they sell whole roasted chickens for like, $6. And it’s like, well, that’s what it costs just to have it processed.
Nobody can compete with that. So when someone says that, hey, it’s $20 for a whole chicken, right, then it’s like, well, why is it twice as much as this one that’s already cooked and ready to go? The public doesn’t understand that. No, that’s lack of knowledge. Education.
There’s part that says education, right? But do they want to know? Do they care enough? Well, I don’t think they want to know because unfortunately, most of the people think with a pocket and not with a head.
And that’s something here.
And that’s why I believe that you can solve that with education for the future. So at the end, if you focus on the education of the kids, if the kids would know do they kids know where the chicken nuggets come from? They have to know. But they have to know. You know what I mean?
It’s this chicken, you see? Now it’s walking and then I’m not talking about that. I’m not going to send my five years old kid to a slaughterhouse. I’m not. But he knows that the ham comes from the pig.
And the farm where we volunteer with the horses, we have a pig. And then, okay, so this is a pig. And when he died, they create food. So this is what I try to do. Now, I believe kids in school, they should go to farms.
They should go and see one day, I don’t know, picking strawberries, you know what I mean? Pick and eat. Pick and eat.
They don’t even know how the strawberries grow. They don’t even know why. You know what I mean? Like my son was telling me, there are supermarkets here now in the middle of we’re talking about we are already in December, which is winter.
And he asked me for a pitch, and I said, there’s no peach. No, but there is in the supermarket. And my question is why? Why do we need to have peach in the supermarket in December in the middle of the Mediterranean? Why?
And it’s not even good. It won’t be good. Disgusting. It’s tasteless. That’s the thing.
It’s tasteless. It has been in fridge for who knows? Kept in cameras on zero degrees or whatever. Who knows? Yeah.
Took the cargo, freighter over from the south. Exactly. Or who knows from where it’s coming from. You have asparagus from Peru. Now you need to add another thing.
Malta will never be the first step, the first stop. It probably will be the last stop. So the spargo is from Peru. They arrive to some central area in Central Europe. Now, from there they might arrive to Sicily and from there to Malta and from inside customs to the shop.
So imagine how long these Asparagus have been harvested from to be able to buy it here. And I still see restaurants in the. Menu using asparagus and it’s still cheaper than anything that could be produced locally. I don’t know. No, not necessarily.
There is amazing local spargo, seasonal, fantastic, but seasonal. But asparagus is fancy. So some restaurants, they middle range, whatever they want to be as they sell us. And it’s incredible. It’s crazy.
It drives me crazy. It drives me crazy.
This kind of goes back to your concept of the ethics, though. Exactly, right? Is it teaching the ethics at the school? Because there’s also huge like we’ve kind of talked about it though, just the disassociation with our food supply. Right.
We just assume like, hey, there’s a peach there. Where did it come from? And I don’t know, I pushed a button.
I have to say that that was a change in myself. I mean, I slowly the more I was into the food industry, I slightly I start changing myself, my habits, my food habits or purchase habits, more into the ethical and start thinking, okay, let’s buy free range chicken. Okay. Where there is free range chicken, okay, so we know that there is free range chicken coming from Italy.
What do we prefer? I prefer the free range chicken or I buy local chicken. And the local chicken, which one? And then I saw a farm, a chicken farm in Morta. And I cannot even get close to those chickens.
And it costs you €1.20 per kilo or something like that. At the free range costs you five year old per kilo. Right. But the growing way, it’s bad. So then there is something in between.
We found then teaching the academy and with the values of the economy, they also brought me try to see different suppliers. And then there is a guy growing capons, which are amazing and really big, nice, fantastic. But the supply is very small, so you need to call him. And then in that case, personally, I prefer to buy the free rest chicken from Italy. So I buy you know what I mean?
So that’s one thing.
I think it’s the way go at the end. You need to respect what’s next to you. We need to respect the land, the soil, the land. I’m not saying that will taste better, you know what I mean? Considering I’m not even thinking on the flavor.
I’m thinking about respect the animal, respect the food, the environment. This is my way of thinking. So when I buy local beef, which is extremely bad comparing to the Argentinian beef and I’m talking about extremely bad, really? No good. But yet again, so I said to myself, okay, if I want a steak, I will buy the Italian steak, which is good, it’s decent, it’s good.
But as an Argentinian and as a chef, I know how to take a beef ribs and turn it into something fantastic. I know how to take a beef chick and turn into something fantastic. So I will buy the local ad, you know what I mean, and do it in a slow barbecue or whatever. So that’s the way I was. I started thinking and that’s why I came into the ethical and that’s why I tried to explain to my kids.
Then we’ll see what I mean, how. Much they were listing. They are, I have to say that they are, you know what I mean? I still buy bananas and kiwis, I have to say. But the banana bananas itself is a topic that someone can speak hours and hours.
How we lost all the different kind of bananas that exist and then we end up having only one which is highly produced, survive every environment. And that’s it.
That’s a whole other topic. Exactly.
What’s your plan now? You’ve got your thesis, you’ve learned everything. Where do you want to go with this? Ideally? So basically, as I told you lately, I got a job opportunity on gaming as well.
Basically, some people that they know, my wife, they needed someone just to be the face in here in Mozart, because the company is registered here. So they needed someone. So I entered into that. But my idea is, first of all, I will keep teaching. I kind of took a step back the last month, so I settled the Igaming stuff.
But I will keep teaching, definitely.
When you do a workshop, we do mainly workshops of one day workshops. It’s a three hour workshop, but we speak so many about something else but the recipe and their basic skills. And then this is where I believe I keep talking about the ethical consumption and the local produce and try to explain everyone who anytime came under my classes why it’s important. You know what I mean? Why is it important?
Why it is important? Exactly why it’s important. I know we’ve been talking about it. But no, because look, especially in places like an island, you can’t be 100% dependent on your food, on someone else. Now, if the demand continue to go down, you saw that on my the almost 45% of the land which is not even sold, it’s used for communal or for local or for personal usage.
So people are not going into a farm. It’s not they don’t want to be they don’t want to be farmers. There is plenty of spaces you can go here and there’s plenty of spaces of nothing, of land which is not even cropped.
On the classes, I try to explain and the next thing that I will definitely do eventually will be content creative. I do very small wheels when I remember with my phone, but I try to do more on the content creative, on local product. Again, go to the farmers market. That’s talking to me about the local. Exactly.
Go to the farmers market, go to the butcher, go to the fishmonger, talk to them, do short videos. Okay, what do we have? Give me this. Is this and then go back and then film a recipe.
The thing is, it’s still ongoing because I believe, unfortunately, long YouTube videos are not anymore on that. It’s more on short reels. Then there is a limit how much you can explain and teach on these small reins. But attention spans have gone out the window. Exactly.
Nobody’s got a detention span. No people. More than three minutes, it’s gone. It’s like that sad. That’s a whole other issue.
Yes, but again, but even this, continue talking about this, coming into these type of things anytime I went to the television here, I went to the TV a couple of times. So try to focus on that and to explain that, to bring these topics up.
And eventually see, I don’t know, maybe one day someone will listen from the government or whatever, and they would invite me to talk about. Hey, you never know. I get it. I worked for a seafood place, seafood restaurant. And even though we’re landlocked, I had all my seafood was flown in from the different coast, west Coast, East Coast, so nothing local about it.
But we tried to make the smartest decisions we could. And I remember talking to somebody about the concept of sustainability, and this was before marketing companies got a hold of it. And she’s like, well, where does it start? How does it go? And it’s like, well, it starts with me, right?
It’s exactly where you’re at. It starts with you, and then you talk about it and you live it, right? You don’t just talk about it, but you live it. And you be the example. And hopefully you can make enough of an impact at some point to get it to grow.
Hopefully. Again, I try to do that, as I told you, from leading by example. That’s what I think it has to be. You need to lead by example and lead by example in anything that you do.
So I couldn’t write a ted or a dissertation about local product if by myself I was not actioned by local product. So that’s the first thing I do.
And I try to explain. Again, my wife, forget it. She buy whatever she wants, and it’s fair enough, no problem. You know what I mean? But when we are together, I do the stuff.
And my kids also try.
Let me ask you this. If there’s one product, one item out of Malta that you want to see benefit the most, out of just more of that local ore kind of mindset.
I have to tell you that the local olive oil is really good. It’s really extremely good. The local honey, local olive oil, ghost cheeses. But again, they do ghost. But they only do one type, you know what I mean?
Locally involved, for sure. The honey really good.
And ghost cheeses. I think those are the three that components that invest, you know what I mean? They’re really good. Okay, fantastic.
Do you have any questions for me? Not much I’ve been hearing. No, but that’s the thing. I think it’s fantastic that you give space to anyone to speak. Topics are important.
Topics are important. It’s good that people speak about that. It’s sad and good at the same time. That from two remote countries. We have the same ideas and same concepts and the problems.
Exactly. It’s a sharing issue. So the more we talk, the more we bring this up, more people will know, and I wish you all the best. I really appreciate it. And thank you for listening to this episode Up Inside the Pressure Cooker.
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