Date of Birth: 13/01/1983
Where do you live: Zejtun
Star Sign: Capricorn
Date of Birth: 10/01/1984
Where do you live: M’Scala
Status: In a relationship
Star Sign: Capricorn
Can you give us a brief outline of your career so far?
We spent most of our childhood in our father’s kitchen at the King’s Own Band Club in Valletta. By our mid-twenties we had started to harbour our love for cooking and food, always under the watchful and guiding hand of our father, Mr Charles Preca. Ramona then opened her own restaurant, Palazzo Preca in Valletta’s historic Strait Street.
The eatery is a true testament to the drive and ambition of the two of us. Backed by our family and cherishing strong values and family ties, we are always taking on new challenges and are preparing to launch our very first cookery book, later this year. Together, we have appeared on a number of TV programmes, showcasing our passion for preparing food, and our energetic personalities.
When it comes to creating a new dish for your restaurant, from where do you get your inspiration?
We get our inspiration from our father’s restaurants, from our visits to restaurants overseas, as well as from the internet.” We are also inspired by seasonal produce.
This is also an important time for us. We are currently producing our first book which we plan to release by October of this year. It is a big challenge to create new dishes and we are especially keen on seasonal dishes. At the moment, for example, there is the ‘makku’, or white bait in English, so you have to create something with it, such as fish cakes or tempura.
Have you ever been in an embarrassing situation? Can you tell us about it?
This is just a short story. One of our waitresses at the restaurant is very forgetful. She came into the kitchen one day asking about the name of one of the garnishes we use. One of them is called the red chard, a red vein leaf which we’ve been using for about six months or maybe even a year. A client asked her the name of this leaf and since she had forgotten its name, she came into the kitchen to ask us for it. I was fed up with having to tell her once again, so I told her that it was called marijuana. She left immediately so that she wouldn’t forget and went up to the client and told her, “Madam, the leaf is marijuana!” Of course, the client didn’t believe her and I ended up running out into the restaurant to tell the client it was just a joke.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your free time?
Relaxing, surfing on the net, family time, cooking … Family gatherings mostly. For instance, every Monday we always have a family gathering. We go out to eat with all the family and the kids. It is a very hectic day, but we enjoy it.
We know you are excellent when it comes to cooking, but what ignited your passion to become a chef?
Background or family mostly. Our father is a chef. Our mother is always buying cookery books. Our nanna too. Basically, everyone is always talking about food. When we are sitting down together, everyone is always giving out ideas and recipes, so it is always like food, food, food! We also enjoy watching food channels. It is an ongoing thing. We never talk about anything else. Talking food is normal for us.
Neale Donald Walsch said: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” How do you feel about challenges?
We love challenges! If it wouldn’t be for challenges, life would be boring. At the moment, we are working on the book, which is a very big challenge for us. We have been working on the idea of this book for about two years and we were always trying to find the right time to produce this book. Also, two years ago, Ramona opened her own restaurant, which brought about its own challenges.
Recently, we went to this new restaurant which opened in Valletta which has been awarded three Michelin Stars. We have always been inspired by different things. When we release something, we always give the best we can. In this way, our readers know that there is something informative and original in what we produce. We always have to be different and we are planning a nice surprise, in our book.
The food industry in Malta. What is your take on it?
It is evolving more and more. It generally used to be of very low quality, but nowadays things have improved greatly. Also, through Facebook and other social media, the world has become much smaller and everyone’s outlook has changed. Even the way food is presented, is different. It looks like everyone is doing their research and giving their best. There is more competition and it is getting more difficult. The more you do, the more you push yourself to do better. You also have to keep up-to-date. At the moment there is molecular gastronomy going on, so you have to see how to do this creative fusion of food.
Moreover, apart from being creative, you have to be competitive with other restaurants. Even when it comes to plating, you don’t always plate on the same plate. Nowadays they are plating on logs or other things, they are always inventing new things. So we try to do our best and give our utmost.
When we go abroad, we get our inspiration from our father’s restaurants and basically from the internet.