Opening her own restaurant at just 27 years old, Chef Maria Sammut is a shining star in the local culinary scene.
“My love and passion for food started at an early age and was always a part of my DNA so to speak, it seemed something that I was destined for and I never considered a career in any other industry,” reveals Maria Sammut, Chef Patron at Valletta’s 59 Republic.
And her career started very early too, seeing her cooking for friends at 17 and becoming a private chef for dinner parties at 18. But one of her greatest achievements to date, she shares, is being able to open her own restaurant at 27 – 59 Republic – which earned her multiple recognitions and awards, including receiving the Michelin Plate in 2020 and 2021.
More recently, she considers relocating to the restaurant’s new venue on St Georges Square another great achievement, both for her and her team. “I am also proud to be one of the very few female Chef Patrons in Malta,” she smiles.
The team at 59 Republic offers a casual fine dining concept, featuring a fusion of Mediterranean and French cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. “My main aim as Chef Patron is to continually stay innovative, never stop learning, to continually update the menu, never be predictable and never stop encouraging my team to do better,” Maria says.
Describing Malta’s restaurant scene at the moment as “happening”, the chef reveals that today, there are many great places to dine, and “I take my hat off to those that are elevating our culinary scene and not only offering great food but concentrating on good design. We are ready to compete on an international level.”
The biggest challenge at the moment, she says, is finding staff, even though at 59 Republic, the entire team was retained throughout COVID, and no one was let go. Still, she shares, “unfortunately a lot of the good hospitality people left Malta. We moved location in March of this year and needed to add to our team – finding good people has been hard, but we are very happy with the staff that we engaged, and they have proven to be experienced and dedicated.”
As for what the future holds, Maria says that at the moment, the main focus is making the most of their new location on St Georges Square, revealing that the team is “thrilled with clients’ feedback and how busy we have been since launching the new location! We love that we now have the spectacular terrace located directly on the square and a fabulous new interior for our clients to enjoy.”