Marvin Gauci | Malta’s culinary delight

Marvin Gauci knows his way around a kitchen. Chef turned restaurateur, he made a name for himself with the opening of his restaurant Tarragon in 2007. He went on to open further restaurants: Caviar and Bull in 2014, Buddhamann in 2015, Dinner in the Sky in 2016, and even exported Caviar and Bull to Budapest last year. This year he was awarded the Chef of the Year title at the 25th edition of the Best of Budapest & Hungary Awards

Chef Marvin Gauci entertaining his guests at Dinner in the Sky
Chef Marvin Gauci entertaining his guests at Dinner in the Sky

You built a gastronomic reputation of sorts and received many awards. What was the reason for this success?

I always considered myself a rule breaker and never felt I could fit into strait jackets. I always saw food as a way to think out of the box and an opportunity to turn the conventional into unconventional. Not compromising on standards helped me reach my goals and achieve excellent results.

Was yours a conscious decision to become a chef?

It was a natural decision. I often note to my close circle of friends that I was born thinking about food and will die thinking about food. From a very young age, I spent hours in my mum’s and my grandmother’s kitchen where I felt the love towards gastronomy. Their passion in the kitchen nurtured in mine a strong interest to embark on a journey in the world of food. The past years were indeed an amazing experience which offered me the possibility to expose myself to different cultures, people, and food which helped me develop into the person I am today.

Do you find it a challenge to constantly create?

I recently read a quote by George Washington Carver who noted that “Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.” Indeed creativity is a lifestyle that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extra-ordinariness of the simplest, most every day acts. I also feel that it adds an extra flavour to my work by offering me the possibility to think out of the box and to turn the conventional into unconventional. 

Do you source as much local produce as possible for each restaurant and does this have a big impact on the menu?

I do use local fresh produce. It is ultimately what distinguishes specific dishes from other continental cuisines. The taste of fresh local fruit and vegetables is so intense and offers an added value to every dish they are included in. The same goes for local meats, poultry and fish. Nevertheless, in view of the range of cuisines my restaurants specialised in, we also have to purchase imported products. The limitations in volumes offered by local produce are also an issue which often obliges us to opt for foreign products.

What brings tears to your eyes in the kitchen?

An onion. Jokes apart, I would say the commitment of my team notwithstanding the challenges they face and the long hours.

Do you have a signature dish?

Not really. It is hard to choose from our range of dishes. Each plate has its own character and specific attention to detail in looks and also flavour which make you fall in love in different ways.

What should people expect when dining at either of your restaurants?

Expect the unexpected. Your senses will embark on an exciting culinary journey of tastes and flavours which come together in a unique selection of dishes.

You’ve opened your first restaurant outside of Malta; Caviar and Bull in Budapest. How different is operating a restaurant in Budapest to the one in Malta?

It’s very challenging in that it was exposed to a market with different ingredients and food expectations. I believe our extensive market research and support from Corinthia was the key and fundamental for our success.

Caviar & Bull, Budapest
Caviar & Bull, Budapest

Would you consider opening further restaurants outside of Malta?

The new outlet is part of our goal to expand the Caviar & Bull brand beyond our shores. Our success in Budapest has reinforced our appetite to expand further the Caviar & Bull bond abroad. As we speak, we are opening a new restaurant in Budapest called ‘Hidden’. This will definitely be one of those one of a kind not only in Budapest, but across the globe. If my vision becomes reality. this restaurant will put the Maltese flag yet again high with the best around the world.

Caviar & Bull, Malta
Caviar & Bull, Malta

What advice would you give an aspiring chef patron?

Stop dreaming and take the plunge into entrepreneurship. Keep your head down, ears open, and do not lose focus of the fact that you’re working to learn a craft that takes a lifetime to master. Never give up and make sure whatever you specialise in, offers something which can help you stand out of the crowd. Last thing, whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and there is only one number one  – the others follow. 

Tarragon, St. Paul's Bay
Tarragon, St. Paul's Bay
Buddhamann, serving a range of Eastern flavours and fine, fresh ingredients
Buddhamann, serving a range of Eastern flavours and fine, fresh ingredients
One of Marvin Gauci's business ventures, Dinner in the Sky
One of Marvin Gauci's business ventures, Dinner in the Sky

 

More in Restaurants

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe