This Maltese Chef Creates Some Of The Most Amazing Dishes You'll Ever See

This isn't food porn – it's food art

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Eric Testa is a self-made chef who creates the most gorgeous plates of food you could imagine. His creations are now served in a luxury hotel in Kiev – but his beginnings were very humble. 

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Testa began his journey into the world of catering at age of 15, when he took a job as a waiter in a three-star hotel in Malta. He's now Head Chef at the Opera Hotel where he's rubbed shoulders with cuisine such royalty as Michelin star chef Massimo Bottura.

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"I took a summer job as a breakfast waiter so I could pay the school expenses that I needed to enter ITS, but I haven't returned to school since then. The hotel business was something that was attractive to me in many ways – it was fun, challenging, hard – an adventure," Testa tells us.

"While I was a waiter I showed interest in working the kitchen, and just from that one of the chefs offered me a job in the kitchen of a five-star hotel. I accepted, but ended up cooking junk food for the pool bar and night bar. I soon decided to leave."

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After a year working in an Italian restaurant, Testa applied for an open position at a five-star hotel that was due to open in Malta and he was accepted. 

"That's where my culinary life started to gear up, and I began to find my feet and the path I want to take. I worked under some amazing Expat chefs I – German, Singapore, Italian, French and American, as well as very talented Maltese chefs and sous chefs," Testa said.

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Testa was soon was asked to travel to Berlin to assist the hotel catering staff in a very busy gala dinner where the whole hotel was transformed in a huge buffet! 

"The Germans really know how to cook, and are especially good at presentation. While I was there I was spotted by one of the chefs because of my interest in a technique that was new to me, and that I had never saw or heard of back home – molecular gastronomy. I returned to Malta and worked hard in the job I was in, and was awarded and promoted as result. After 9 years I decided I wanted to try to work in a restaurant where I could try molecular cuisine."

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The chef who spotted Testa in Germany eventually got in touch. He offered him an opportunity he couldn't refuse – to study molecular gastronomy in Donetsk Ukraine in a five-star hotel.

"I accepted and left," he said.

But it wasn't all plain sailing. Testa's team eventually changed and instead of working under the German chef, he became part of a team led by a French chef with Portuguese roots and a strong Michelin background. 

"It was tough working for him in the beginning, but after a few months we started speaking the same 'kitchen language'. He helped me to raise my own standards and polish my skills."

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Testa now works for the same hotel group but as Head Chef for another hotel in Kiev. But his sights are set on returning to Malta.

"I have a dream that one day I'll open my own gastronomic restaurant and achieve a world-renown award for my restaurant, bringing prestige to my team, myself and the country I work in – which hopefully will be Malta." 

Despite his avant-garde plates, and after all the glitz and glam of the hotel world, his favourite thing to cook is still a very down-to-earth dish:

"My favorite will always be a risotto dish… it's so delicate yet so versatile."  

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Do you know any talented Maltese people working abroad? Write to us with their story on hello@lovinmalta.com.

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Written By

Ann Dingli

Ann Dingli writes mostly about art and design. She enjoys friendly debates and has accepted that she's a small person.

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