Q+A: CHEF ADRIAN BONELLO A FESTIVE FEAST FOR ALL THE SENSES…

N THE HEART OF MALTA, CHEF ADRIAN STANDS AS A CULINARY MAESTRO, A SEASONED ARTIST WHO HAS WOVEN HIS MAGIC ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE FOR OVER 11 YEARS, PROUDLY REPRESENTING OUR ISLAND NATION IN PRESTIGIOUS COMPETITIONS. AS WE DELVE INTO THE CAPTIVATING TALE OF HIS CULINARY EVOLUTION, THE FOCUS SHARPENS ON THE DYNAMIC REALM OF CHRISTMAS EVENTS AND CELEBRATIONS, AN ARENA WHERE CHEF ADRIAN’S INCREDIBLE TALENT SHINES BRIGHTER THAN EVER.

[…“Collaborating with the Relais and Chateaux was one of the best experiences in my life”…]

Chef Adrian, having represented Malta in overseas competitions for over 11 years and earning numerous awards, how would you describe the evolution of the culinary industry during this period, particularly in terms of Christmas events and celebrations?

Over the years, the culinary industry has undergone a fascinating transformation fueled by my unwavering passion. With the rise of social media, accessible websites, and global travel, chefs now find inspiration in diverse cuisines and experiences. Competing internationally keeps us in

tune with trends, fostering discipline,
skill enhancement, and a keen eye on appearance and hygiene. At Xara, we cater to various events, from intimate gatherings to grand celebrations like weddings and VIP dinners.

As the executive head chef for Xara catering, part of the Xara Collection, you must have experienced many bustling holiday seasons. How has the dynamic of Christmas events and catering changed over the years, and how do you and
your team adapt to meet the evolving expectations of clients and guests?

Christmas events are a dynamic playground where guests are now leaning towards more innovative ideas, giving us chefs
a chance to unleash our creativity and surpass expectations. Each year, we adapt our menus to cater to our clients’ unique preferences. Private home functions are gaining popularity, and we provide catering services to match. The festive season is a whirlwind, and our preparation is rooted

in meticulous organisation, ensuring a synchronised and smooth operation for our team.

With your extensive experience, how do you approach training and mentoring young and new chefs within your team? What values or skills do you believe are crucial for success in today’s culinary landscape, and how do you instil these in the next generation of chefs?

Training and mentoring young chefs are imperative for the growth of the culinary arts. We prefer to nurture talent from scratch, watching them evolve within
the company. Essential values include discipline, respect for ingredients, a passion for the job, and a commitment to sustainability. Punctuality, focus, and the ability to thrive under pressure are crucial skills we instil in the next generation.

You’ve been an integral part of the Xara Collection for a significant period of time. Can you share some highlights of your journey with Xara and how collaboration has influenced your culinary style and approach? How has your relationship with the Xara Collection evolved over the years?

Xara is more than a workplace; it’s my second family. Collaborating with Relais and Chateaux has been a highlight of my career. Starting in my early 20s, I’ve been part of numerous milestones, from prestigious events to restaurant openings. The relationship has evolved into a rich tapestry of growth, camaraderie, and shared success.

The culinary world is known for its ever-changing trends. How do you stay innovative and adapt to new preferences and styles, especially during the festive season? Are there any specific trends or innovations you find particularly exciting or challenging in today’s culinary landscape?

Staying innovative involves a constant search for new trends and guest preferences. Sustainability is a significant trend, and we embrace it by using local produce from our in-house Xara Gardens. This allows us to craft menus based on freshness and seasonality. The challenge lies in balancing tradition with contemporary trends, a delicate dance that keeps our culinary creations exciting and relevant.