This chef is taking the local cooking scene by storm

Food-obsessed Chef Daniel Grech has been seen cooking up a storm in the kitchen for the past ten years. He is the brains behind Burgers. Ink, the  burger and pancake hub located at Suq Tal- Belt and Paceville.  He is now showcasing his skills as a co-host and judge on Gourmet Challenge

How did you discover your passion for food?

I started working as a dishwasher when I was 18 years old. Whilst working in the kitchen, I watched other people cook and was always interested in the adrenaline and creativity that I used to witness. After two years, I began to help out in the kitchen and eventually became a chef. I haven’t looked back since.

Burger and lobster from Burgers.Ink
Burger and lobster from Burgers.Ink
Daniel's over-the-top burger and pancake creations
Daniel's over-the-top burger and pancake creations

You’ve been recognised for your ability to take classic comfort food dishes and add your own personal twist to catch guests’ interests. Can you share your inspiration behind this style of cooking?

I developed this style of cooking from my weird creativity.  I like colourful food that includes a lot of sweetness and rich flavours. I also like to infuse food that I loved to eat as a child into the dishes I create today.

What is it like being a judge and criticising people’s food on national television?

I’m a pretty critical person and I’m honest about that. It’s my job to look for things that could be improved. I speak my mind and it’s easy to do so when there are positive things to say. On the other hand, it’s harder when I’m being harsh because people might disagree with what I have to say. I might upset the person whose food I’m judging but it’s definitely never personal. At the end of the day this is a competition and the participants know what they are getting themselves into.

Behind the scenes of Gourmet Challenge
Behind the scenes of Gourmet Challenge

What do you think the goal of a cooking show like Gourmet Challenge should be?

Our goal is to show all our viewers at home that cooking can be fun as well as educational by sharing some knowledge about the ingredients found in the mystery box as well as sharing recipe ideas and encouraging them to be adventurous in the kitchen. We also aim to bring out the best of each and every comeptitor as they are faced with a tough kitchen callenge and must perform under pressure.

What’s it like working on a TV show with other people?

Honestly, I love it. You get to interact with different people. and come across different personalities and different cultures. . You get to experience something different during every filming  session. Some contestants are so creatve that I even find myself learning new things and ideas.

Chef Neil Darmanin and Chef Daniel Grech
Chef Neil Darmanin and Chef Daniel Grech

What did you think about the participants so far?

I liked everyone so far. I’m intrigued to see what dishes they’ll create as the competiton progressesand ingredients get tougher to work with.  I really do love every single one of the contestants as they’re all unique in their own way.

What do you enjoy most about working in a restaurant?

I enjoy meeting and connecting with so many different people from all around the world... everyone from staff to customers. One of the greatest things I enjoy is the feeling of adrenaline we experience during rush hour, and the best feeling is seeing people happy and satisfied with the final product that has been served to them...this means you are doing something good.

What would you say are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the local restaurant scene over the past ten years?

The biggest change I’ve seen is that because of social media,  a lot of people are now more informed and have a better understanding about food and restaurants. Then again, there are those people who think they understand everything just because of the pictures they’ve seen online. I’ve also realised that it is very hard employ local staff who are ready to work in a restaurant. A lot of Maltese people do not work in catering establishments anymore.

Social media has changed the way  locals choose their food. What are your thoughts on this statement?

Yes, social media has changed the way that locals think. It has also given our restaurants a boost, but then again it also has the power to create severe damage to food establishments. In this industry, social media can either make you or break you. It has definitely increased the pressure because nowadays, anyone can bring out a phone to post any kind of review online.

Catch Chef Daniel Grech on Gourmet Challenge every Thursday at 18:30 on TVM  and try out his mouth watering creations from Burgers.Ink at Suq Tal-Belt or Paceville