In the heart of St Julian’s, your dining experience at Truffle&Truffles is expertly orchestrated by Chef Natasha Buttigieg and and her partner in crime and cuisine, Andrew Xerri. From the bistro brilliance of their repertoire to the final crescendo of their trademark truffles, the culinary duo has made its mark in Malta’s restaurant industry. We caught up with Chef Natasha for a further insight into her craft.
We know you excel when it comes to cooking, but what had initially ignited your passion to become a chef?
As a young girl, it had never crossed my mind to work as a chef or in any kind of catering, but my family told me that I’ve always wanted to make something in the kitchen. I’d often compete with my mum at making cakes, with hers always being triumphant. As life went on, I continued my studies, but I realised that I felt misplaced with no ambition, so at the age of 18, I restarted school at ITS.
Above: Chef Natasha Buttigieg, mastering her art with Andew Xerri
When it comes to creating a new dish for your restaurant, where do you get your inspiration from?
Creating a menu and the specialities of the day is the most exciting part of the job. You can be creative and express yourself best with the seasonal produce. In fact, this is the first element I look for. Mother nature is the true artist, as Marco Pierre White says, and I find this to be absolutely true. Placing together mine and Andrew’s different experiences, we create new combinations.
What is your signature dish?
My signature dishes are always based on seafood. I’m very passionate when it comes to cooking fresh local fish and seafood, as I find it incredibly vast and exciting. I’m also a meat lover and very fond of truffles, naturally.
Above: Truffle&Truffles – Mouth watering signature dishes
When you’re not at work, how do you spend your free time?
I get a day off every week, but the rest of it sees me do a 24/6 marathon at the restaurant. Most chefs would agree that we find ourselves exhausted by the time we get our day off, but fitness has lately been giving me more energy, and it’s helped reduce the stress. Other than that, we love dining out and chilling out with close friends.
What’s your take on the food industry in Malta?
It has improved, and we’re now giving more upmarket options and variety to the consumers. We’ve got new upcoming talented chefs who are enthusiastic and who think out of the box, aiming for high quality and opening up their own restaurants.
What generic cooking tips would you impart with us?
Cooking is all about passion, discipline, hard work and dedication. My best advice is to be humble, keeping your head down and keeping an open mind.
Respect your ingredients, look out for the best products and only opt for what is fresh.