Freshly minted cooks show off their creations to the masses

The project, dubbed L-Ikla t-tajba (Bon Apetit), kicked off earlier this summer with an intensive course in professional and creative cooking for a group of amateur cooks ranging from 13 to 55 in age.

18 September 2014, 12:04pm
In an effort to promote Maltese food culture, the Valletta 2018 Foundation has embarked on a project that will see a motley crew of 20 freshly trained cooks serving their own street food creations to thousands of people at the upcoming edition of Notte Bianca.

The project, dubbed L-Ikla t-tajba (Bon Apetit), kicked off earlier this summer with an intensive course in professional and creative cooking for a group of amateur cooks ranging from 13 to 55 in age. Working closely with a number of social and philanthropic organisations, Valletta 2018 made sure that the course would include people coming from all walks of life – some privileged, others less.

“Towards the end of the course, every participant was tasked with contributing to the project by creating a street food recipe featuring a prized local ingredient,” David Darmanin, the consulting chef behind the project, told MaltaToday. “Only eight dishes made it to the final shortlisting, but the rest of the participants worked very hard to fine-tune the chosen recipes – so everyone chipped in.

"Albeit under constant professional guidance, the team – mostly made up of teenagers – worked with a remarkable team ethic, and this will surely come out in the final results on 4 October.”

At Notte Bianca, the area in front of the Stock Exchange in Castille Square is set to transform into a giant pop-up kitchen, where signature dishes with a marked local character will be offered to an estimated 20,000 passers-by. Throughout service, the course participants will be under the constant guidance of Darmanin and his international team of chefs.

Recipes include tongue-in-cheek renditions of foreign inspired dishes favoured by many a Maltese.

“To mark Malta’s 50th anniversary since independence, one of the teenaged participants came up with a Cornish Pasty stuffed with traditional rabbit stew. That’s just brilliant, even from a purely expressive aspect,” Darmanin remarked. “Not to mention a participant of Philippine origin who invented the lampuki-stuffed spring rolls to go with a sticky tomato-caper sauce.”

Three of the vegetarians participating in the project have created a vegan burger with local farm vegetables, an almond-base tart with Girgentina grape jam and a contemporary local rendition of the Tunisian version of Imqaret.

The professional culinary team guiding the participants includes two alumns from Copenhagen’s Restaurant Noma, the five-time winner of the World’s Best Restaurant.

“We’re going for simple stuff done well, thoughtfully and with love – which is ultimately the basis of all fine cuisine,” he concluded.