The Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay is proud to have chef Hassan Deli providing mouth watering barbecues in the relaxed atmosphere of the White Olive Restaurant, which forms part of the Lido St George’s Bay. He has been spicing things up with his oriental touch for the last six years, and with 45 years of expertise and a continent of experience, you’re guaranteed a memorable Lebanese-style barbecue.
61 year old Hassan from Turkey took a moment to let us know more about the man who cooks up such enticing dishes at the White Olive.
How had you started off as a chef?
My father used to own a small kebab shop in Turkey and I used to help him everyday till I was 18 years old. From then on, I started working in restaurants.
Where has your cuisine take you?
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Egypt, Libya and Malta. These countries have something in common – great weather. I think it’s really nice here! I like all the seasons here as well.
What had you found difficult to adapt to when you first came to Malta?
I couldn’t get used to the driving! You drive on the opposite side.
How do you like to unwind outside of work?
I run for an hour each and every day. I like the sauna and I regularly go into the jacuzzi, as it improves circulation.
What cooking tips would you like to impart with us?
When preparing Middle Eastern food, it all boils down to the spices you infuse together. I love using herbs such as rosemary, thyme, mint and basil. We grow our very own herbs at the Corinthia, by the way! For chicken and fish, always use a very low level of heat, and very high temperatures for beef.
Could you tell us how you go about preparing your beef oriental kebab, which is on the White Olive Lebanese-style BBQ menu?
You first have to soak the meat in a marinade of yoghurt, tomato paste, harisa (which I specially prepare myself), garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle some cumin powder and finish it off with a drizzle of vinegar.
What’s your favourite dip and what are its key ingredients?
For an exceptional hummus dip, the secret boils down to what you’re mixing. Do not mix chickpeas with water. You’ve got to use ice! This is because when you mash the chickpeas with a grinder, the chick pea becomes hot. You need to cool it down with ice. In addition, when using ice, the hummus dip lasts much longer in the fridge. If you use water, the dip won’t last as long. Next, mix this paste with salt and lemon juice and add tahini, also known as sesame paste. To finish off, drizzle the top with some olive oil.