Meet the Chef: Barbajean’s Jean-Pierre Dingli talks passion, produce and THAT scotch egg
In the first of a new series of interviews with some of Malta’s best chefs, GuideMeMalta meets Barbajean’s Jean-Pierre Dingli.
Opening its doors in June 2020, Barbajean, in the northern village of Dingli, is the brainchild of chef patron Jean-Pierre Dingli, and offers a modern Mediterranean-inspired menu which emphasises seasonal produce.
“Good food is at the forefront of what I do as a chef,” explains Jean-Pierre, who says that the team at Barbajean truly cares about the ways in which food is sourced, prepared and served.
“We are here for the people who care; the people who want to spend their money at a restaurant that has a conscience and appreciates good food. We do it for people who believe, like us, that doing things with love and passion is the only way to run a good restaurant,” he reveals.
The menu at Barbajean changes seasonally and is made up of smaller and larger dishes that work as sharing plates or individual starters or mains. The choice is not vast, but features a curated selection of meat, fish and pasta dishes alongside vegetarian options, as well as an enticing selection of home-made desserts.
“Everything we serve is inspired by what’s available locally and whatever I would want to eat myself, if I went out to eat,” reveals Jean-Pierre.
Among his favourite dishes from the menu so far, the chef patron names a Maltese sausage scotch egg. “This recipe is so simple yet was created with a lot of thought to turn something traditional into something modern,” he says.
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Sharing his thoughts on Malta’s restaurant scene, Jean-Pierre believes that as an industry, “we need to take more risks to deliver something new without comparing ourselves to other countries because we definitely have the potential to be just as good.”
The obvious challenge over the last months has been COVID-19, he continues, adding that the industry has taken a hit and it hasn’t been easy on anyone. “Many restaurants had to re-think their entire operation as many had to rely solely on takeout, apart from seating restrictions which have been detrimental to some,” he says, going on to point out a distinct opportunity to emerge within the trying scenario.
“Be creative, get inspired by other chefs and their signature dishes, take all the feedback you receive and simply strive to be better,” he challenges, adding that “it is also the perfect opportunity to be grateful.”