A Taste Of Brilliance
Vamp Magazine meets Cliff Borg, Head Chef for ROSAMI at the Villa.
THE XARA COLLECTION’S LATEST CULINARY EXPERIENCE, ROSAMI, IS LOCATED WITHIN THE HISTORIC BUILDING OF THE VILLA, AN IMPOSING, 19TH-CENTURY PALAZZO, WHAT USED TO BE THE SUMMER RESIDENCE OF ONE OF MALTA’S LEADING 20TH-CENTURY IN- DUSTRIALISTS AND ONE OF THE OLDEST STRUCTURES IN THE BALLUTA BAY AREA. THE STUNNING EATERY IS RAPIDLY DRAWING IN CROWDS FROM FAR AND WIDE.
VAMP CAUGHT UP WITH THE CULINARY VIRTUOSO BEHIND SO MANY INCREDIBLE FLAVOURS, HEAD CHEF OF ROSAMI CLIFF BORG, TO LEARN MORE.
What inspired you to become a chef, and what culinary experiences or mentors have influenced your cooking style?
What inspired me is the fact that I felt most at home in the kitchen. Most people don’t tolerate the chaos, the heat and the pres- sure of the kitchen, but I loved every second of it. In terms of experiences, the best were when I worked abroad in Michelin-starred restaurants, seeing different cooking techniques and cultures.
Can you describe your approach to creating a menu for ROSAMI?
We mainly visualise the experience, not the dish or menu, as they all must unite to create a unique and flowing experience. We strive to give it that playful touch and instil curiosity to keep our customers engaged and question, “What is this ingredient?” or “How did you pair these together?”.
What factors influence your menu decisions, and how do you balance innovation with customer preferences?
We take a lot into consideration: The season? How we can make it taste better?
Our primary focus is always flavour. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfectly plated. For us, all that matters is that it gets our audience to say, “This is delicious!”.
What would you say is your signature dish or culinary philosophy, and why is it unique to you?
One doesn’t need the most expensive ingre- dients to make an exceptional dish. We take simple ingredients, sometimes everyday in- gredients, the best we can find…be it local or not and turn them into a fantastic dish. That’s where the challenge truly lies.
How do you stay updated with the latest food trends and ingredients? Can you share any trends you find particularly exciting or challenging to incorporate into your menu?
Nowadays, it’s much easier to stay updat- ed. You can find anything on social media or books, but our favourite way will always be to travel and experience it ourselves. We try trends or techniques just for our reper- toire, but they will probably never be used on a menu as they wouldn’t fit our style. Right now, many chefs are returning to classics and keeping it as simple as possible, which is very interesting and far more challenging.
Managing a kitchen can be hectic. What are your strategies for maintaining a well-organised and efficient kitchen brigade to consistently deliver high- quality meals?
Like a family, listening to the team and get- ting everyone as involved as possible. After all, we tend to spend most of the day together, so it is only natural. It is imperative to show a clear goal, where we want to be and what we want to achieve to work together as a unified team.
Can you share a memorable culinary experience or moment in your career that has shaped your perspective as a chef?
When I was much younger, I worked in a very high pressure and toxic kitchen with lots of yelling and throwing. I got out of that environment and worked with Chefs who had complete control of their kitchen with just a look or a quiet chat with no unnecessary yelling. I immediately knew that the latter was my managerial style.
How do you foster a collaborative and creative environment in your kitchen, and what advice would you give aspiring chefs looking to excel in their culinary careers?
We get everyone involved as much as possible when creating a dish. This creates a more collaborative feel and, to the people cooking it, a sense of ownership of the dish itself.
For aspiring chefs, I would say to keep their heads low and on the ground, work hard, spend time in the kitchen, travel, eat every- where and everything, read, listen and grow.