Pierre Caruana was born in the early 80’s in Malta, and he was thrown in to the kitchen from early age, watching his mum and aunties cook authentic Mediterranean food with fresh ingredients from their local market. Malta being an island it has an all year around supply of first class freshly caught fish so Pierre developed a speciality in cooking fish and shellfish, something he until today still find great pleasure in doing.
Pierre was the head chef at Restaurant Lena in central Shoreditch for a few years, before changing direction and began working as a freelancing, self-employed private chef to high profile actors, politicians and business men, and women, a year back. Currently at work as a private chef on a yacht sailing the coast around Malta and the Mediterranean Sea, it give Pierre the right environment for continue to develop his mouth watering recipes with all good things from the sea. TIP meets with him to see where the passion and interest of food comes from, and if he has any tricks to share with wannabe chefs and restaurateurs.
What is your profession and chefs rang, and what does your role involve?
I am a head chef, with it the highest position in a kitchen. In my role I need to take care of food cost, portion costing, rota for other kitchen staff, corresponding emails from suppliers, functional issues of the kitchen, food quality control, ordering and much more…I am the leader of the kitchen, so as well as training the other chefs, I am the one they turn to for information and advice during service, but also outside service hours.
Where did you study?
I studied here in Malta and I stated my official chefs training from the age of 16 at the Institute of Tourism, ITS Malta. They have great programs and I gained a lot during my four years there.
Why did you want to be a chef?
I believe the dream was always inside me, and especially as I spent so much time in the kitchen during my upbringing and the wonderful produce around me, I wanted to cook it.
You are currently a private chef on a yacht, what is the main difference in being a private chef and working in a venue?
For me the roles are very similar, almost the same. I like them both- but when you a private chef you can’t have any commitment cause you need to go were the owners of the boat or your employer like to go, but it’s not all bad as you will see the world and have fun with them as well. I have a bit more freedom with the menu being a private chef as well, most of the time when you work in a restaurant you need to adapt to influences from the owners, the customer requests and the manager…here I just need to cook my employer so once you get to know their preferences it’s easy to keep the menu in their taste.
Which is your favourite cuisine?
My favourite cuisine is a culinary classic, French- but I like to cook any type of food.
Favourite all time dish?
My favourite dishes to cook all the time is very simple dish, fresh Tagliatelle pasta with shaved fresh Truffles and butter.
Which is your favourite restaurant?
It’s hard to say cause I been a lot of places all around the word, all good in their own way, but one particular venue that really impress me was Sketch in London.
Which is the worst restaurant you’ve eaten in?
My worst, oh, there is any of them as well…it is better not to say so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. But I think issues that made the worst experience is bad service, rude staff, long waiting times and badly cooked food.
What is your dream job?
I’m in my dream job because what else you need from life, I see the world and new places, and I get to meet interesting nice people with the sea, sun and live on a yacht.
From a chef’s point of view, what advice can you give to restaurateurs when it comes to running a restaurant?
From my point of view, a chef’s point of view, keep it simple. Let you kitchen work with good produce, and trust your head chef’s choices, give the kitchen team a little space to develop their ideas. A seasonally changing menu and daily specials is also important to offer choice to regulars, and spend some money on good marketing it’s always a good investment.