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Vol. III No. 09 July/August 2014

Christina Galea Never a dull moment @ IHG

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July / August 2014 Vol III Issue 09 Cover: Christina Galea - page 16 Photographer: Sean Mallia



Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association Nr. 2, Gallina Street, Kappara San Gwann, SGN 4111, Malta Tel: (00356) 21318133/4 Fax: (00356) 21336477 Email: Web: Published


a member of

37 04 Editor's Letter 07 From the MHRA President 11 From the MHRA CEO 16 Never a Dull Moment:

Christina Galea

22 The Council Members In Depth:

Rosie Grech

24 100 Days of Glorious Food 28 Food Makes the World Go Round 37 Unity in Food

41 The 'Wow' Factor 45 The Passion for Wine 51 Blog Island 55 Olly's for Taste 59 Taking Cuisine to New Heights 63 Eating with sweet gods 71 Easier Access to Finance for Micro Enterprises

74 A Smart Move for the Local Hospitality Industry

Publisher Jason Attard Editor Victor Calleja Sales Manager Marian Poucher Layout & Design iMNG Ltd





iMNG Ltd Ajiree Court, 04, Testaferrata Street, Ta’ Xbiex XBX1403, Malta Tel: (00356) 2010 7775 Email:

The President and Council of the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association, on behalf of the members, would like to thank the Sponsors for their support and commitment towards the MHRA. The long-term agreement reached with the sponsors has enabled the MHRA to take a more long-term perspective to its operations.

© All rights reserved by the Publisher. The Publisher’s written consent must be obtained before any part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. Whilst every care has been taken in compiling contents, the publisher and/or editor cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions. You are reminded of your right to refuse receipt of this publication and/or our other products or services by sending such requests in writing to iMNG Ltd, signed by the person refusing receipt.


July/August 2014



These last years have seen us reach undreamt-of heights in technology, in daily life and in travel. As a result of these dramatic changes, we have seen the world grow ever smaller and we travel and experience different cultures in a way unheard of till a few years ago. In the past, travelling to new worlds was only for the courageous and adventurous. Now it is normal to go into the heart of foreign lands and we all expect to delve into their own cultures at some point in our life. In this issue of Insider we dip into the world of wine, an age-old drink that has inspired many a writer, a painter, a lover down the years. It is always important to cherish, nourish and give as much space as possible to locallyproduced wine. Today’s traveller wants a holistic experience and wine, just like food, is part of our country’s culture. You cannot explore and enjoy our country in full without trying our wine. It is very disheartening to see local eateries denigrate or hardly know anything about our own vines and their


July/August 2014

produce. But this hardly means we should not appreciate foreign wines. Drinking and exploring all that is happening in the wine world away from our shores gives us more knowledge and opens new vistas. In this issue you can find out all about a French winery that has moved with the times, explored new worlds and invested in modern new technology while still revering the old, the traditional, the soil that gives us its fruit. Read on and let’s drink on in moderation.

has also managed to strike a good work-life balance, setting a good example for people to follow. Things change, people move on and all sorts of developments happen. This is what fascinates us all and what keeps us so interested in this ever-changing world of food, wine and hospitality. Enjoy this issue of Insider, your link to what, and who, makes hospitality tick.

From France we move to Spain, not for wine but for coffee. Island Hotel group, through their partnership with another local affiliate, will soon be extending their operation overseas. They will be taking the Costa franchise to Spain. Insider finds out all about the woman who, with her team, leads the HR aspect of the group. Christina Galea tells a fascinating story about that most important part of hospitality - the people who work in it and who make it a success. She’s interesting, she’s passionate and she

Victor Calleja


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From the MHRA


Paul Bugeja

Polishing a Rough Diamond Malta and Gozo are islands of unparalleled beauty. Each year over a million and a half visitors from around the world, or nearly 4 times our population, discover a treasure-trove of natural and man-made wonders. They marvel at sights like the Hypogeum, the magnificent Valletta and the majestic Mdina, the scenic Three Cities and the spectacular Mediterranean coastline and countryside.


Indeed, besides being one of the greatest places in the world to live, work and invest in, MHRA believes that Malta is also one of the best places on the planet to travel to. Year after year, over the past 5 years, we have celebrated record arrivals, while being aware that this trend cannot go on forever. The main reason for this is the actual small size of our islands with the resultant limited resources.

Proactively, therefore, MHRA has lately spearheaded the debate about the need to set a new vision for our tourism industry with the aim to ensure a smooth transition from what it is today to what we all would want to have tomorrow. To this end the challenges that we face are not few and range from external infrastructures to quality of service and accommodation.

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“ There is also a

growing interest in

sustainable tourism, which takes the

environmental and cultural impact of


In the past, international tourism was seen as the purview of a relatively limited set of affluent travellers whereas today many are originating from the expanding middle-class in Europe and in particular from large emerging economies. The economies of China, Russia, Brazil and India are indeed generating large increases in the number of tourists and forecasts are that these will keep dominating the tourism agenda of the future.

The vision and related strategy must be crafted around the principle that we all depend, in more ways than one, on the tourism product, and the tourism product depends on all of us.

Secondly, the most affluent tourists have had enough of the traditional destinations. This explains why tourism is growing in countries such as India, China, Turkey and Thailand, each of which had a much smaller tourism sector several decades ago. These exotic destinations are offering travellers newly-accessible and unique experiences, something which this little diamond, Malta, set strategically in the middle of the Mediterranean, can offer, but needs to pursue much more aggressively. In this light the new vision needs to reflect MHRA’s efforts to emphasise the Mediterranean as a destination that brings together a colourful spectrum of experiences for the traveller, while positioning Malta as a key component in this strategy.

We believe the time is right to launch this new approach. For a start, over the last 20 years international tourism arrivals have been growing consistently at an average of 4 percent per year and this is set to continue in the foreseeable future.

Thirdly, technology has shifted marketplace power to the buyer. Travellers are increasingly using the Internet and social media tools to learn about new attractions around the world and to find the most cost-effective way to reach these destinations.

travel into account

We are therefore not calling on Government to change everything for the sake of change but what we are saying is that the tourism industry is very dynamic and to keep up with our competition we must start thinking in terms of developing exceptional tourism experiences and how to further enhance the best tourism workforce in the world.

As tourism demand grows and evolves, there will be even more intense competition for tourism euros among destinations. Consumer expectations of value for money are becoming more demanding, and concurrently travellers are seeking novel experiences that satisfy their inquisitiveness. There is also a growing interest in sustainable tourism, which takes the environmental and cultural impact of travel into account. And it is here that we believe Malta is now at the cross roads between offering more of the same or building on the fact that we are small and accordingly aiming high. We are conscious that this is not easy to achieve, and we are pleased that the Minister for Tourism has taken on board our suggestion to kick off a consultation process amongst key stakeholders with a view to turn around our industry from an unpolished diamond to one packaged appropriately to attract the attention of the most affluent and discerning travellers in the world. All voyages start with a first step, and this will also involve those studying today and who will tomorrow be part of our industry. All stakeholders must be brought together to discuss and challenge the status quo, with all efforts geared up to achieve a new long-term vision to take us to 2030 and beyond. This indeed may be considered the first step in a new journey for Malta.

Join the MHRA and support it in its quest to safeguard the interests of the Tourism Industry and at the same time enjoy the benefits of membership. For further information contact the Membership Officer at


July/August 2014


British Manufacturing at its best. British Manufacturing at its best.

Editorial from the


Junior MHRA The European tourism sector is the third largest socio-economic activity in Europe and is, therefore, critical to Europe’s competitiveness and economic well-being. It is also one of the few industries that keep creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, especially among young people, despite the economic crisis affecting the continent. It is a sector consisting mainly of micro-enterprises. On the same lines, Malta has defied expectations; the smallest country in the EU with scarce natural resources and yet we are delivering fantastic results through the tourism industry. The tourism sector represents 30% of GDP and 35% of government’s cumulative revenues, substantially more than most other EU countries. It employs thousands of people from across the board and it also offers good conditions of work and salaries at different levels of the organisation. Indeed it is good to celebrate such good historic results, which do not happen by chance but rather reflect the good work done by all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism, MTA, MIA, Airmalta and others directly involved in this industry. So at this point let us emphasise the future ...our future. To have a future one needs to be competitive, and in today’s dynamic markets being competitive means being able to craft one’s own future. If I were to define a profile for people aspiring to work and succeed in the tourism industry I would highlight three characteristics:


Andrew Aqius Muscat

1. The importance of the attitude

to understand people and why they travel – The key word here being ATTITUDE.

2. The need to give their best and aspire to keep learning how to satisfy people who travel – The key word here being BEST.

3. The need to be ambitious to

grow professionally without ever putting to question the ethics and values of good governance – The key word here being ETHICS.

Let us now analyse these briefly one by one.

1. Attitude: competence is

extremely important so the best advice is to take up every opportunity available to learn new skills endlessly. People out there are travelling more and are after new experiences so once we understand this new reality in our societies then it is only through learned skills and positive attitudes that we as an industry will succeed or otherwise.

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2. The best: A lot of rhetoric is

“ (The tourism

industry) represents 30% of GDP and 35% of government’s cumulative revenues, substantially more than most other EU


available on quality and what it consists of. The best is probably best defined as being passionate in what one does. It is only by offering the best that we as an industry can survive as there is no room for amateurs.

3. Ethical: Being ethical pays in

business. People who travel notice the difference between those who are hosting them just for the money and those who are genuinely hosting them like good friends. And offering a genuine friendly service will generate profits in the hospitality industry.

In all this we, as employers, recognise the important role we too have to play to complement that of the academic institutions like University and ITS.

Those are there to teach academically, which is very important, whereas our role is to provide the experience. I am pleased to announce that MHRA has set up the Junior MHRA initiative whose aim is to connect with travel and tourism students studying at University and ITS, so that they can start, as early as possible, to experience the way the heart of the tourism industry beats. We believe this is a fantastic opportunity to serve as a bridge for our youth, from the educational institutions to the real world both locally and abroad. The doors at MHRA are open for our students to take up the opportunities that together we will create to ensure a sustainable future for all of us working in such a unique industry – the tourism industry.

Life+ Water Project in line for an international EU Award An EU funded project led by the MBB and partnered by the MHRA and the MCCEI

After winning 1st prize in the 2014 National Enterprise Awards, the MBB-led EU Life+ Investment in Water Project was nominated by the Ministry for the Economy to the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014. This project has now has been shortlisted by a high-level jury for Category 5: Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency. Malta will be competing with two other shortlisted projects by the Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade in Portugal, and Textile Exporters Association in Turkey.

The other occasion was a project by Malta Enterprise. Therefore surely, this is already an outstanding achievement for the Malta Business Bureau, as project leader and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, who were active partners in this project.

This is only the second time in the last 10 years of participation that a Maltese project made it to the final stage of the European award.

The winners of the categories will be announced at the SME Assembly in Naples, as part of the European SME Week, on the 2nd October.

A word of congratulations goes to Project Manager Geoffrey Saliba and the project team for their effort in implementing this project successfully.

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS LIST Platinum Associate Members

Bank of Valletta p.l.c.

E-mail: Service/Product: Banking & Financial Services

Deloitte E-mail: Service/Product: Audit, Tax Advisors, Financial Advisory Services, Management Consultants

Corporate Associate Members

GO E-mail: Service/Product: Communications & Entertainment

Air Malta E-mail: Contact: Melinda Kecskes Service; National Carrier

Ernst & Young E-mail: Service/Products: Assurance, tax, transactions & advisory services

Captain Morgan Cruises E-mail: Contact: Mr Kevin Zammit Briffa Service/Product: Specialises in cruises around the Maltese Islands, Jeeps Safaris on Malta & Gozo and also Underwater Safaris and exclusive charters.

PKF E-mail: Contact: Mr George M Mangion Service: Accounts & Business Advisers

Grant Thornton Malta E-mail: Contact: Mr Mark Bugeja Service: Audit and Assurance, Business Advisory, Tax, Corporate Services

Simonds Farsons Cisk plc E-mail: Service/Product: Beer Bottlers & Catering Operations

Malta International Airport plc E-mail: Service/Product: Airport Operators

Smart Technologies E-mail: Contact: Christopher Demicoli Service: IT Solutions Packages

City Sightseeing Malta E-mail: Service: Operators of Hop on Hop off tours on open-top buses, both scheduled and chartered. Emirates E-mail: Contact: Mr Paul Fleri Soler Service: Air Carrier

MSV E-mail: Service/Product: Provider of life insurance protection, long term savings and retirement planning

Gold Associate Members

Attard Brothers E-mail: Service/Products: Shop fitting, contract furniture, machine services

Braveagle E-mail: Services: Hospitality Consultants and management focused on teams to make it happen Cleaning & Security Services Ltd E-mail: Contact: Alan Bonnici Easy School of Languages E-mail: Service/Product: Educational Institution HSBC E-mail: E-mail: Service/Product: Banking Services


July/August 2014

HSBC Global Payments E-mail: E-mail: Services: Payment institution, debit/credit cards, acceptance-EPOS, telephone/internet INIALA E-mail: Service/Product: Corporate Philanthropy, part of the Inspirasia Foundation

Studio 7 Co. Ltd. E-mail: Service/Product: Audio Visual Services, Sales, Installations, Media Productions

KPMG E-mail: Service/Product: Audit, Tax & Advisory Services Laferla Insurance Agency Ltd E-mail: Service: Insurance Palazzo Parisio E-mail: Services: Weddings & Events

Intertek Laboratories E-mail: Service: IT Consultants, support and network specialists John’s Garage E-mail: Service/Product: Taxi, car rentals, transport services, leasing


Silver Associate Members C. & H. Bartoli Ltd E-mail: Service/Product: Hotel & Catering Equipment & Supplies, Carpets & Floor Coverings

Continental Purchasing Ltd E-mail: Service/Product: Catering equipment and supplies

P. Cutajar &

The General

Co. Ltd.

Soft Drinks Co Ltd



Service/Product: Importers and suppliers of


Horeca food & beverage brands Dewar’s, Martini,

Bottlers & Distributors of Soft Drinks, Water,

Lavazza, Ferrero, Foodworks

Beer & Energy Drinks

Bronze Associate Members

Contact Advisory Serv.

E-mail: Service: Business Consultants Helms Briscoe E-mail: Service/Product: Meetings Procurement Hospitality Web Systems (HWS)


Service/Product: Hospitality E-Commerce Solutions including websites, e-marketing, on-line booking facilities, search engine optimization and more


Impressions Printing & Signs Ltd.


Service/Product: Transport Services


Service: Effective printing and sign services –


Menus, brochures, business cards and more possibilities

Sigma Coatings (Malta) Ltd.

Jmp&C E-mail: Service/Product: Kitchen Hygiene, Housekeeping Detergents, Disposables, Trolleys, Safety signs & Colour coded Products

Service/Product: Paint Suppliers


Mac Pherson Med Ltd E-mail: Service: Paint suppliers

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July/August 2014



a Dull Moment −an inside look at Christina Galea’s world of HR

Insider is constantly on the lookout to find out about the inner workings of the world of hospitality, and the people who form part of this world. Hospitality is fascinating - you constantly meet people from all walks of life and from the four corners of the globe - but this fascinating world is sometimes shrouded in more complex situations than other jobs.

The main reason for this is that hospitality is all about people-greeting and being “hospitable” to other people. Whether the people dishing out the hospitality are in reception, in management or front-liners in F&B, the main thing is the human touch, the human relationship. And humans - unlike commodities or products - are hardly ever constant. All people are subject to bad-hair days, emotional strains, and other factors which weave their effect on their performance. All this is further complicated by the world of hospitality including the players who give the service and the ones who receive it - so human interaction occurs not only internally but also externally, with the guests rightly expecting a service for their money that is nothing less than excellent. These guests have their own whims and foibles. If any trade or profession is a people’s one this must surely rank as the one where people mean everything.


Even palaces with the most sumptuous exteriors and fabled treasures inside, with food that would make the gods cry with happiness, would be failures if they lacked the human touch. No amount of gold, of comfortable beds and feathered pillows are enough to substitute a human smile, a meaningful word. In this complicated interaction, some thrive on the situations, carve out better procedures, create a harmony where harmony is hard to imagine let alone conceive and achieve. These people are the human resource personnel, sometimes maligned as being just interested in red-carding the bad boys and girls and only concerned with the organisation that gives them a job and a reason to exist. But in truth, and in practice, human resource managers are vital in keeping the industry well-oiled and truly hospitable. Insider meets Christina Galea, HR Director at Island Hotels Group (IHG).

July/August 2014


Christina Galea heads a team of 7 who look after HR for the group, which employs over 1000 people and is involved in top hotels, an outside catering arm that has been a leader for 20 years and is also involved in the Costa franchise in Malta and Spain. This new development in the Group and its affiliates will mean a bigger responsibility for Galea.

Quite a tall order for the bubbly Galea but one she has obviously fulfilled quite well to have been retained by such a leading company in the hospitality world in Malta. As Galea tells us: “The Spanish connection will further ensure boredom is kept at bay.”

One of the attributes an HR manager needs is a The international connection will add on to the challenge perspicacious view of people, with the innate power of of the HR department but, as Galea herself admits, this is a evaluating them for their role, thereby knowing whom to challenge she is not only ready for but employ and who to move around to eager to get into and add to her list of keep the organisation well-oiled and responsibilities. evolving. And when the management team appointed Galea HR Director I need to renew This addition to her responsibilities they certainly sussed out her attributes further confirms why she loves her as well as any HR man or woman. initiatives to add job. “The world of human resources is Galea was already working with the ever-changing,” Galea tells Insider. “You group in HR when she was given her value to the team meet different challenges, different top billing five years ago. She hasn’t scenarios every day. There is a pattern looked back - and from the results at and make life in of course and you follow procedures Island Hotels it seems certain that the but finally it’s a new day every day and Group has never regretted its decision. the workplace for nothing is the same as the day before. And this is what keeps me going. I Unlike most other challenging top jobs, all employees and would hate a job that is repetitive and one of the things Galea tells us is that that doesn’t give me new challenges. I since she moved into her post the HR management a better, need to renew initiatives to add value to budget has been increased annually. the team and make life in the workplace This makes sense and should be the more fulfilling one. for all employees and management a norm but, in this age of constraints and better, more fulfilling one.” curtailing of expenses, it is music to any


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head of department. “Management, led by the two Winston Zahras, have understood this is the way forward and the way we can remain market leaders. Because of our reputation we are now the employer of choice. People want to join us and the Zahras play a pivotal role in this. They have always been instrumental in acknowledging the importance of HR. They thrive on anything that makes us more people-centric. And they pay more than lip-service to this. They treat us all - all the ones involved with the group - as family. This is felt throughout the company and the loyalty to the brand and to the people behind the brand is impressive. We try hard to keep up our level of satisfaction both at employee level and especially in our relations with our guests and clients.” The HR supremo at Island Hotels Group adds that the attention to HR is also seen in the way the GMs run their hotels. They are all available at all times and are approachable and visible. “This makes our hotels,” Galea says, “so much more alive and personable. People make our world happen and all the team leaders have to be on the forefront of their property otherwise the whole offering suffers.” In every organisation when the top people work as part of a team and inspire confidence in their leadership everyone in the organisation is motivated to follow their example. Leadership by example in every aspect of the organisation is what Galea believes in. She doesn’t only have to cope with her 1000 employees, but also with sourcing and employing an average of 300 a year including seasonal part-time team members. She has to use all her skills to do this as well as integrate and incentivise them and get them in tune with the brand and the Group’s philosophy and way of doing things.

However, this is all aided by an organisation that thrives on innovation, development and moving up the ladder based on merit. The HR Director admits that. even with the best of intentions, sometimes she too gets it wrong but tries to turn a sour experience into a learning curve for the future. Galea believes that one needs to find the best strengths and pluses of any individual and that excellence can be achieved by building on those strengths. She believes that one has to learn how to use time efficiently and is a prime example of this as she is a mother of very young twins. Besides the daily challenge at work she has to cope with life at home, which definitely guarantees that life is never boring. HR might be a tough aspect of any business but Christina Galea’s passion makes it all sound like a breezy, infinitely interesting role.


LUX-IT, Luqa Road, Paola TXN9043 (Opposite Carters Supermarket) 21 66 55 44,,

LUX-IT, Luqa Road, Paola TXN9043 (Opposite Carters Supermarket) 21 66 55 44,,

In this series of articles we find out about the people who matter in the association that truly matters, the MHRA.

The Council Members

IN DEPTH Rosie Grech


July/August 2014


Position at MHRA: Gozo representative Establishment represented: Churchill Restaurant, Xlendi Gozo. Years in council: This is my first year. Reason you are in hospitality: I grew up in a family catering establishment and realised from an early age that this line of business was more than a mere job and now it has become almost a vocation. Catering gives me the opportunity to be of service to people, in turn enhancing my sense of purpose. Meeting people of different nationalities and perspectives gives me a continuous sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in what would otherwise be a simple and mundane job. List previous places you worked in, owned or managed: I started my career at the age of seventeen when my father Nicholas Grech trusted me with the running of what at that time was just a bar at the water’s edge in Xlendi. From a stand-alone bar I started to include, at first modest but later


more ambitious, menu selections until finally I converted it into a restaurant. In time I invested further both in the amenities and furniture and concurrently improved and facilitated access. The last thirty years have involved a great deal of work and effort but the whole experience has given me immense satisfaction and the incredible contentment that comes from hard work and commitment. Dirty hands because of hands-on policy or better suited for delegating? From my experience in this business, I would say you certainly can’t rule out one or the other. There are situations that may need the focus and attention of the person in charge and at times of the owner, and other situations where the volume and amount of work involved demands effective delegation. From my experience, I feel that interchanging between both, depending on the situation, creates the best recipe for success. What are your aims for MHRA? MHRA operates within a strong and national framework and has become the voice for the whole industry. My aim is to support its aims and

at the same time to capitalise on its resources and abilities for the promotion and advancement of the tourist industry in Gozo. Favourite pastime: Reading and gardening Favourite food: Oriental What are Malta’s shortcomings in tourism? Probably the main concern in the tourism sector for Malta in general is lack of long-term planning, supported by comprehensive and coordinating planning. Gozo’s main tourism thrust is internal tourism (Maltese) which is very seasonal and limits us at times in terms of volume. Additionally my concern is that Gozo is unjustly being perceived as very expensive compared to certain European destinations. And what about the positives? We are a tiny island but within these few square kilometres one can find a wealth of culture, history, entertainment, good food and accommodation blessed with mild weather, surrounded by beautiful and clean seas and adorned with small and picturesque bays.

July/August 2014


100 days of glorious food and beyond

If, or rather when, Mark Weingard’s story is made into a film a pivotal scene will no doubt feature Valletta as a background shot. Valletta means that much and more to Weingard. His life story, if seen on celluloid, will surely make people gasp at all the near-misses he was involved in and the tragedies he suffered. But according to Weingard the biggest gasp would still be the Valletta scenery.

Weingard, entrepreneur extraordinaire, is in love with Valletta, Malta and the whole nation. The first time he saw Valletta he fell in love with the place, it was love, deep, passionate love at first sight. Valletta moved him, Valletta won him over and he instantly knew his fate was sealed - he wanted not just to live there but to build businesses there. His background is banking and finance but he loves hospitality and he is not just an outstanding ambassador for all things Maltese and Valletta but also for all things connected to hospitality. Food is an art to him and the ones who produce it are artists who deserve the highest honours. Another art he just loves is accommodation for visitors and if his plans come to fruition, as they have done in Thailand, we are in for a great ride with him not just by way of great food and service but something superior. His Iniala Beach House in Thailand is a gem and offers an experience which discerning visitors all rave about. Making it or anything like it happen here in style, with outstanding service offering and food, will put us smack on the right road


July/August 2014

to attract and satisfy even more high-end visitors to this country. Weingard feels Malta is the best place to happen to him and to many others like him. Malta is all about hospitality with people who are not just hospitable when they are paid to do it but to whom hospitality comes naturally, friendly, inclusive and ready to accept all that is foreign. The best judge of a nation is a foreigner living amongst us - like many of our unofficial ambassadors who live in and love Malta, he puts us, the natives, to shame, as we surely never speak so highly of our country or compatriots. What he has endured would be enough to stop anyone from even smiling but he looks at his life and takes energy from it. He has been involved in some very nearmisses, including not making it to a meeting at the Twin Towers on the 11th September 2001. He was in a hotel - mercifully for him a high one - when one of the worst tsunamis hit Asia, so he could climb to the roof above the oncoming tragedy. He lost his longtime lover and partner



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in a plane crash and his father, a taxi-driver, was involved in a fatal car accident when Mark was 10 and the father 36. He admits freely that he was a failure at school then turned to hospitality but made a lousy waiter, went into finance and after climbing high, was working with a leading bank that crashed and went out of business because of insider trading. He then proceeded to build himself a business from nothing which also crashed dramatically. Now Weingard is one of the most exciting businessmen to have hit Malta. He has rebuilt his business from scratch and wants to have a base in Malta. When Insider met him he was getting ready to conclude a mega-deal with the MIDI consortium to develop a business centre at Tigné Point. Yet he was unruffled, relaxed and cheery with all the people at the club. The Civil Service Sports Club (CSSC) was the scene of a party the night before to launch the 100 days in Malta of Aziamendi. These 100 days, which will go on from July to October, are a major first for Malta. The CSSC will be the venue for a gastronomic feast featuring a top 3-star Michelin chef inspiring and leading a team specially flown in from Thailand. Staff from Aziamendi will look after all the patrons, who can eat at the gastronomic restaurant on the first floor or opt for a snappier meal on the ground floor. The views are stupendous and, if you move up to the roof for a drink, you are presented with one of the best sights in Valletta if not the Mediterranean, the President’s palace and St George’s Square at your feet. But for Weingard and his team it is all about people, all about service. The views, the place, even the food dished out and the art that surrounds you are all important, but without the human element, the human touch, all is hollow and turns even the best food, the best accommodation into unpalatable junk and uncomfortable living. The day we met was the first of the 100 days of special gastronomy and yet all was moving like clockwork, with Weingard managing to smile and greet all the people around him. And he is so proud of the whole team - not just the ones who came purposely from abroad to make the Malta experience a truly memorable one - but also the Michael Cauchi brigade and all the suppliers and technicians who were all going around making sure that Aziamendi 100 is a great success. Weingard’s ideas for Valletta include a top-end hotel with fabulous apartments boasting an indoor pool - on St


The Chef at Aziamendi 100 Leading the whole 100 days experience in Malta is Eneko Atxa who is the chef at Aziamendi in Thailand. Born in 1977, he was raised in the Basque part of Spain, in the town of Amorebieta – Etxano, just outside Bilbao. Eneko says his greatest influences, food-wise, are his mother and grandmother and has them to thank for his early fascination with cooking. When he was just 15 Eneko embarked on his career as a chef at the Catering College of Leoia in the province of Biscay. In December 2013, he moved to Aziamendi at Iniala, Thailand’s most luxurious hotel focused on Design, Art and Gastronomy. He is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and was recently voted the No. 26 Chef in the world by San Pellegrino.

The good causes 5% of all proceeds in the Aziamendi 100 adventure are going to local charities. This is in line with all Mark Weingard does. He set up the Inspirasia Foundation to help good causes and to go into initiatives to make a difference where people need it most. Barbara’s Bastions. This to him must rank as one of the best streets with a view to beat all others. The scenery, the history, the architecture, all move him. But I ask Weingard - can it all be a success? Is there enough interest in high-end stays in Malta and if there is can it be sustained? To Weingard all this and more is possible. According to him, Malta and Valletta are not known enough and the ones who know and have experienced them fall passionately in love like he has done. He also has another plan in mind to open the world’s first gastro hotel in St Paul’s Street in Valletta. Aziamendi 100 has hit Malta and, if you want to be transported to a culinary height not usually dreamt of, make sure you book a table now. Visit and start sharing the gastronomic dream.

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makes the World go round

The MHRA recently organised a most interesting seminar for the Restaurant section. A few hard-hitting speeches gave the audience interesting morsels regarding what can be done or achieved in this line. There was also a very valid panel discussion about chairs and tables as an outside attraction. What follows is a resumÊ of the proceedings. As we talk of new experiences to give more value to the discerning traveller one thing has remained constant for many years, if not centuries. Food and the experience of food when abroad is one of the highlights of any trip. But what the traveller experiences, what the traveller looks for, is not so easy to gauge. Food and restaurants are the most important parts of any nation’s offering and, with Malta attracting nearly 1.5 million tourists annually, this must surely rank high on the agenda. Restaurants and the food offering in Malta have improved beyond all imagination. While a quarter of a century ago all we had were a handful of top-notch restaurants, with the rest dishing out a rather squalid version of fish and chips, today the choice of good-quality restaurants is enormous. Even the cheap and cheerful are not


July/August 2014

necessarily bad or grease-based. Food has improved as have restaurants. But what can be done to add value to this already good part of our offering?

The Minister for Tourism The seminar’s first speaker was the Hon Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister for Tourism. The minister spoke highly of the restaurant trade and mentioned the great statistic that results from surveys - 75% of all tourists to Malta find that restaurants offer a most satisfactory experience. But he turned the statistic on its head and pointed out that it is a worrying factor that 25% are not satisfied. What needs to be done is discover why this happens and improve on it as much as possible.

One of the most important factors is to introduce a label to help improve the quality and show the way for tourists - and locals - to find that quality. Steps are in hand, said the minister, for MTA, MHRA and the ministry to launch this quality label. The contribution of restaurants to our economy is staggering - growth has been exponential and needs to keep expanding. As the tourism sector grew, so did the restaurant sector. The minister here gave some figures. According to the NSO, restaurant revenues have reached 330 million euros and of this 46% account for local trade. Part-time and full-time employees approach 4,000, with an employment bill of 50 million euros. These are significant figures which have to be sustained and increased as the Maltese economy grows.


The Discussion Panel

Helena Egan, Trip Advisor; Head of Destination Marketing, EMEA


Mark Laferla jr, Laferla Insurance Agency Limited; Assistant General Manager

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Mr Mark Vella, BoV Valleta Fund Management

worst happens and something like machinery breakdown occurs, the loss this will mean to any operator without due insurance will be high. The investment in insurance will offset all known possible problems, from fire and flooding to product liability. Laferla have launched a new insurance cover which is available to all MHRA members at a specially discounted premium.

The minister pointed out that seasonality is why there is substantial turnover of employees and more should be done to offer better conditions to employees, which would then add supply. The ability to converse in different languages could be another quality leap for employees and offer visitors a better experience. Other aspects touched upon by the minister were marketing, energy cost and proposed incentives for local cuisine. Marketing needs to be stepped up by the different operators and the minister said he was surprised that, in today’s world, about half the restaurants have no online presence or hardly make use of it. Steps by MHRA and MTA would move the sector to reverse this anomaly and achieve better results. Energy costs are being confronted by Government with the new tariffs being more amenable to people in the restaurant sector, releasing more money to be able to increase their return on investment and therefore be able to expand, modernise or add on to their investment. Government would be looking into ways how to incentivise restaurant operators to introduce or increase Maltese cuisine in their menus. Finally the minister touched upon one of the hot issues which were tackled thoroughly at the seminar - outdoor


seating for restaurants and cafés. He said that MEPA, MTA and MHRA and other connected organisations are in discussion to find a good solution to this thorny problem which has been shelved for too long. Malta’s balmy weather for most of the year is ideal for al fresco dining and sitting at open air cafés. Thus, hopefully, this will be resolved in the near future for the benefit of locals, tourists and food operators in general.

Investments & Insurance Following the minister’s intervention, Mark Vella from BOV Valletta Fund Management and Mark Laferla from Laferla Insurance gave two interesting and short presentations on the importance of investment and of looking after your investment. Mark Vella from BOV told the audience how important it is that all employees should be looking at planning for the future and that BOV had easy plans for all. BOV offers flexibility and ease of use for what is put aside for the future. Mark Laferla explained that insurance should never be seen as an added expense but as an investment. If the

The Mhra/Deloitte Report Restaurant Performance Survey October 2013 - March 2014 The results of the 3rd Deloitte Restaurant Survey were then presented by David Bonett. The survey included 89 participants, collectively accounting for more than €37 million in annual revenue. The survey covered key economic indicators of the restaurant trade such as sales volumes, revenue and business sentiment and asked participants to report year-on-year increases for the period October 2013 - March 2014 compared to the same period in 2012/13. Interestingly the respondents’ answers to the survey queries are all anonymous. The only people who actually see the respondents’ names are some of the Deloitte staff who have to work on the data and verify the answers supplied. Beyond this no one finds out who the respondents are or what they answered.

Restaurant revenues have reached 330

million euros and of

this 46% account for

local trade.

July/August 2014


In addition to the results of the survey, Deloitte also analysed data issued by the National Statistics Office with regards to employment numbers for the restaurant trade as a whole.

Panel Discussion Chaired by the MHRA CEO Andrew Agius Muscat, the panel discussion was lively and informative. Topics covered were varied and often the panel members gave very detailed information on what is happening in the public or private arena which concerns restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops.

Taking part were Mr Christopher Borg, an architect who is also director of planning at MEPA, Mr Tonio Ellul, the Chairman of the Tables and Chairs committee, Mr Joe Cassar, Chairman of the National Tourism Zones at MTA and Mr Matthew Pace, Chairman of the Restaurants Sector at MHRA and also MHRA Vice-President. A long discussion and an analysis of what has happened so far concerned the policy that is being drawn up regarding outdoor seating for restaurants and cafés. Plenty of progress has been registered in this area. The law as it stands is 30 years old and all ideas of what tourism is and what a country needs to offer have changed.

The law needs updating and reappraising so that it will better reflect what the country needs today. The policy as it stands requires too many regulations and falls under too many boards, making it absolute hell for anyone trying to apply for any concession and who never finds out what the exact regulations are. This will all change in the very near future. To date, no proper regulation exists pertaining to the use of awnings in public. Operators who are investing plenty of money in this line need exact and verifiable rules. All the relevant entities have been consulted and are contributing to a policy upgrade which

Key results of the MHRA / Deloitte survey were as follows: • Overall reported sales were up 1.4% with the majority of restaurants reporting an increase in sales throughout the period October 2013 to March 2014 compared to the same period in 2012/13. • Valletta continued to register steady growth in revenue whereas Sliema restaurants have reported their second decline in three periods. • Tourist areas such as St. Julians, Buġibba, St. Paul ’s Bay, Qawra, Marsascala and, Marsaxlokk reported gains during the off-peak season compared to last year. • An analysis of the survey results shows that during October to March, restaurants across all price brackets experienced growth. Restaurants with an average spend per customer of €10-€15 registered the largest increase (+1.8%) whereas those with an average spend of €15-€20 recorded the lowest increase (+0.9%). Similar to previously reported trends, the restaurants that appear to be experiencing the largest growth are at both ends of the price scale (i.e. over €30 and under €15). • Whilst increases were reported across all size brackets, the larger restaurants (100 covers+) reported the most signif icant growth. This is consistent with the results of the previous Deloitte survey. • Employment in the sector has continued to report a steady increase for both part-time (+4.1%) and full-time employees (+1.1%). The reported increase in wages was marginal with the majority of restaurants (57%) reporting no increases. • When questioned about the Christmas/New Year period, the majority of restaurants (62%) reported consistent results when compared with the previous year, although 88% of restaurants in Mellieħa and 67% of restaurants in Gozo reported positive growth during the last festive season. • General business sentiment amongst respondents was positive with 54% reporting a positive outlook and only 10% expressing negative views on their prospects over the next three months.


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The president pointed out that he was happy that the Minister for Tourism had announced that this will be put into action but Mr Bugeja highlighted disappointment that the authorities are taking too long to provide the necessary support and turn the Malta Restaurants Quality Label into reality.

Mr Paul Bugeja, MHRA President, whilst overviewing the sector

The president pointed out that we should exceed people’s expectations and delight them with our unique Maltese and Mediterranean hospitality.

will shortly produce new guidelines to turn this thorny issue into a law that will benefit all concerned. The entities include MEPA, the Lands Department, Transport Malta, MHRA and MTA. Another issue discussed was the need for tourism police. This was promised some time ago and they need to be introduced as soon as possible to monitor all shortcomings and abuse in touristic areas. MEPA has been reorganised and now all needs connected to restaurants are handled by the Business Development Unit. This has obviously expedited processes and reduced bottlenecks. Tourism Zones as designated by MTA will help clear the red tape and organise the zones better. Malta will be divided into three zones and the final goal of this will be better monitoring of maintenance, embellishment and law enforcement. Much is happening, much is being discussed and planned. All the speakers were upbeat about the results which will be reaped in the near future. The next leap is to see the policies, the ideas and the planning turned into reality and the overall product improved.


The President’s intervention Concluding the seminar was Mr Paul Bugeja, MHRA President, who gave an incisive overview of the restaurant sector. In surveys conducted by MHRA it has been consistently revealed that more and more tourists are opting to dine outside their place of accommodation and visit as many different restaurants as possible during their stay. This has placed a major responsibility on our restaurant operators, in particular on the level of service and the quality of the product offered. With the support of the various stakeholders, our restaurant sector has made major improvements over the past years, but still faces various challenges to achieve the quality objective as envisaged by MHRA. MHRA believes that more should be done by the authorities to support the restaurant owners who are investing in quality and innovation by at least recognising their efforts through a professional service audit system. MHRA has presented its views on the matter and spearheaded a system which could serve this purpose.

Another challenge that our restaurant sector is facing is directly and intrinsically linked to the Maltese identity and experience. MHRA members are finding it difficult to recruit Maltese frontline staff and end up recruiting foreigners, which at times is not the best option given their lack of knowledge of Maltese and correct English. More should be done to solve this problem or to create more awareness of it and to find long-term solutions. Unfortunately we seem to have got lost in discussions and registered slow progress. The President appealed to the authorities to tackle all matters that were discussed at the seminar, from the awnings-policy to better policing, with utmost urgency and accordingly aim to deliver concrete results. Both on a local and EU level, all unnecessary bureaucratic procedures which most often suffocate the operations of restaurants need to be minimised. There has to be innovation but this can only happen if there is a clear vision at the top.

July/August 2014


ETHNIC CUISINES RIGHT IN THE HEART OF MDINA Sharma Ethnic Cuisines offering Arabian, Indian and Mediterranean food inside Mdina and with a terrace on the bastions, overlooking the valley between Rabat and Mtarfa, serving lunches (Saturdays and Sundays) and dinners (all days).

19, Casa Magazzini, Triq l-Imhazen, Mdina MDN1201. SharmaRestaurant For reservations, call 2145 3817, 9999 6315 or e-mail:





The Old Priory, Triq Il-Villegaignon, Mdina. Open Everday Lunch: 12:00 – 17:00, Dinner: 18:30 – 00:00 T: 2145 0978, 7999 6315 E: W: F: theosmdina

UNITY in Food Insider dips into the world of Sharma, a world of food from many regions, a world where all your ills are laid aside. Step into Sharma and enjoy the foods of Malta, the Mediterranean, North Africa and India. The experience is unique.

Malta is an interesting mixture of cultures and a fusion of races. Whenever we are described as pure white heads should roll or at least laughter should echo. Our ancestors gave us our legacy, which is unique and inspirational but definitely not pure, which makes us stand out even if we are so small, so bereft of natural resources. Malta is a pot, brimful of ingredients from different parts and cultures of the world. Today more than ever, Malta is a varied pot of ideas and of cultures. People from various nationalities congregate to learn about us, see our sights and eat our food. Considering its size, Malta


offers an experience that is hard to beat, hard to replicate. And Mdina, the old capital of the island, is so special that it mesmerises locals and foreigners alike. No one comes to this CittĂ Nobile and leaves without a feeling of awe. Mdina makes you bow in reverence to what it has seen and what it still represents. The Mdina streets are mainly of the meandering type. You stroll around and the place permeates your veins. The stone, the houses, the door knockers, the little nooks, seem to relate a story that captures your imagination and lets you wander through alleyways and streets meant for damsels, knights and chivalry.

If you enter Mdina from Greeks Gate, turn right and walk on along the bastions, you reach a building which houses Sharma, a restaurant which has made the fusion of cultures a reality and a culinary treasure. Sharma has added more than the cultures that have invaded our shores because, besides the Maltese, North African and Mediterranean cuisine, there is also an Indian element. It all sounds a bit too much or confusing but all is good, all fuses beautifully. Imagine entering a Suk, a typical Arabic market with a multitude of goods and people. At first the scene

July/August 2014


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is overwhelming, and nothing can be observed or taken in. But then you move around and your mind starts focusing and appreciating the different colours, the different calls. This is Sharma too. A lot happens and it might take you a few minutes to focus but, once you do, the Sharma experience is quite unique. You walk up the stairs to where the restaurant is and the feeling is definitely welcoming, Arabic more than oriental. Rugs, beautifully woven and strung up, greet you. As you walk into the restaurant the kitchen, in open display, sets your juices working. Unlike the usual mayhem of a Suk here the feeling is relaxed, far from any noise or madness. Beyond the kitchen, the restaurant has the feel of an Oriental palace and, if your mind is imaginative enough, of a harem, not a flashy or vulgar one, but one where style predominates. When you sit down, the food experience starts. No the feasting starts. This is a place where you do not just eat but feel transported to other lands, near and distant lands. You do not just eat - you talk, you drink, you discuss, you enjoy life at its fullest. And while you feast you see the others feast too. This is a place where you forget your daily grudges and drudgery. The best way to enjoy Sharma is in a group when you can sample several different dishes from Arabia, Malta, the Mediterranean and India. However, even for two the Sharma experience is a joy. The wine will not set you back too much, as the policy at Sharma is to charge retail prices with a corkage


fee of €4.90 per bottle. You are even encouraged to take your own wine, incurring the same corkage fee of €4.90 per bottle. Besides knowing their food the people behind the Sharma know how to satisfy their clients.

A lot happens and it might take you a

few minutes to focus but, once you do, the

Sharma experience is quite unique.

A whole group of us from Insider Magazine turned up to celebrate and to find out all about the Sharma way with food. The service was easy and accommodating, even when we were lost in conversation and left the waiters waiting. We noticed that one particular waiter hardly smiled - however, this was not because he was bored or rude. It was his Indian deference to let us smile, laugh and have a good time without seeming to overstep the mark. Our host was Clarissa who recommended the lamb shank, pointed out the best tagines and explained why we should go for embattan (potatoes stuffed with meat, eggs, onions). She was a joy to hear and forthright in her opinions, helping us to choose well without being overbearing. We ordered a number of dishes all served with great care by the Sharma

brigade. We had an array of pulpetti (fritters), rabbit, lamb tagine and falafel, a maddeningly hot (perfect- as it was ordered) curry which caused a bit of a stir not just because of its fire but also to distribute around us. But all was fun and all added to the evening’s bonhomie. In fact eating and sharing break down many barriers. We also sampled pilau rice, nan bread stuffed with vegetables, Embattan, Falafel, Dolmah. The taste was magical, the sizes more than adequate and the prices are reasonable. We saw and commented on the dishes served to other diners who were not doing it our-style but ordering individual dishes, and the amounts were Maltese-style and enormous. The place is not meant to attract the sophisticate who wants to just nibble and appreciate food in the old nouvelle cuisine style. I doubt the typical Maltese, Arab, Indian or Italian truly appreciates small portions so Sharma is a celebration of the cuisines it represents. The ending was another nicely orchestrated festa of sweetness. We were tempted by Indian ice cream, Basbousa (a cake drenched in syrup) Mqaret (date tarts) and oriental sweets oozing nuts, honey and goodness. Sharma is a true gem - its modern façade is not representative of Mdina but inside it has so much to offer that such a failing in its architecture is easily forgotten or laid aside. A visit to Sharma, whether with a big group or for a tête-à-tête, will offer an experience not easily forgotten.

July/August 2014


We offer more than just fine wines and spirits…


The WOW Factor Victor Calleja

I’m not into yachts or anything floatable but my friend John and his wife, Irene, are and they wanted to show me their new acquisition. I arranged to meet them near their yacht in Msida even though we were all tight for time. The yacht’s beauty duly noted, my head reeling slightly even while admiring from a safe, land-based distance, I insisted we celebrate with bubbly, good bubbly, as my friend is only comfortable with the best. My friends, in unison, opined that the best place was The World of Wines. Sounded fine for me. This was my first taste of the place in Ta’ Xbiex, which fits their bar of excellence. It looks good outside and even better inside. Here old meets new - masses of wood beautifully chosen and manufactured. The wood adds warmth to the feeling


of being pampered in a dream-like scenario of bottles upon bottles displayed on shelving right up to the high ceiling. The feel is traditional with a proper modern twist to it. All seems chiselled and well-thought-out without being overbearing or unapproachable.

It’s vibrant, it’s cool and it really puts wine in its true perspective, embodying all that is happening in the world of wine with the old accepting and loving the new, and the new influencing the old. World of Wines has style oodles of it along with its loads of bottles.

July/August 2014



The eye looks around and manages to see, and to absorb, the bottles, the shapes, the labels of wine and more wine, all interspersed with packets of nibbles, glorious nibbles, and some little nooks filled with pasta. The mind behind World of Wines obviously has a loving eye for detail. It is all done to perfection and certainly after much studied contemplation. But the magic is that, unlike some displays which are cold and distant, here the feeling is easy. Just as wine and its world should be. The location is

excellent - smack opposite the Msida marina, an ideal setting for yacht-lovers to enjoy watching the bobbing masts in the shimmering sea. While I was studying the selection of wines, my yachtsman friend was leafing through what seemed like the wine list of a grand restaurant. I queried the sense of this as we had to rush back to work so didn’t have much time for our minicelebration. Irene laughed and pointed out that this was the list of wines available at World of Wines: another of those small touches that scream class.

Any wine you choose comes at retail prices, even when consumed on the premises. Oh sweet bliss to find a place which ticks all the boxes not only for me but also for super-quality sticklers John and Irene. But another surprise lay in store. Although World of Wines is run by Charles Grech, importers of wines and spirits, the choice of wines is not restricted to their own imports they have included a vast array of wines from all the major importers in Malta. Yes, the quality represented by Charles Grech meets even more quality from all over the island. I remarked that if Bacchus, that great god of wine, had to come down and visit our island he would surely replenish his wine cellar with bottles from World of Wine. This reminded John that he should stock up on wine for their yacht and the knowledgeable attendant gave him invaluable advice about what to buy. We ate a small snack to accompany our champagne and that too was tasty and fresh. The World of Wines in Ta’ Xbiex, another good place to discover and another first for Charles Grech.

(Irene and John are real - but their names have been changed to save their blushes.)


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The PASSION for Wine Victor Calleja

From left: Jean-Marie, Lionel, Arnaud, Jean-Christophe and Raymond Bourgeois

The battle rages, the words get more animated, the blood flows, but this is only about wine and the battle about whether white or red is better. The lovers of red cite the experts who say red is good for the heart. But what is white wine good for? Love. And I have that from good authority - from Arnaud Bourgeois, one of the heads of the Henri Bourgeois winery who tells me this, and much more, while we laugh away and discuss the eternal fascination of wine. Wine, that godly nectar, is the last thing that should be laced with controversy so we animatedly, but with unending bonhomie, discuss it during our meeting at the Ten Green Bottles in Żebbuġ. The winery Arnaud represents mainly specialises in whites so his love of wine is obviously skewered to highlight anything white. As we talk we taste a variety of wines


from his winery and, even if I am usually all for the red wines, Arnaud with his words but more so with his Sancerre wine convinces me that, while anything that adds oomph to the heart-pump is good, these whites are heavenly.

production for at least 10 generations. The Bourgeois farms in Chavignol were not just specialised in vineyards until Arnaud’s grandfather Henri took the revolutionary step of turning all the parcels he owned into vineyards.

The Bourgeois winery is a relatively small one in the Loire Valley. Wine must surely flow in the blood of the family as they have been involved in its

People around him thought he was mad but he persisted and today the family pays homage to the man who had a dream and followed it, making

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A portion of the Bourgeois Vineyards in New Zealand

wine, especially Sancerre, synonymous with the Bourgeois name. Arnaud’s passion is inbred. He breathed and lived wines and the vineyards. His grandfather, the one who started it all, actually taught Arnaud how to prune, crop and feel and smell the grape. What better training than that? Henri is hands-on and knows the terrain, loves cultivating it and has an innate understanding that nothing should be done to hurry the natural course of the vine. The fruit should be left to come to fruition when it and the climate - dictates, not when production levels or market exigencies decide. This love and respect for anything connected to the land, not just his land but any land and anything connected to nature, Henri passed on to his sons and grandchildren. Arnaud speaks with a passion and love not just for wine but for anything alive. And when growing, cultivating and harvesting, the Bourgeois family tends to do it all as naturally as possible.


They keep away from insecticides and pesticides and they try to grow everything as organically as possible. But this does not stop them from moving with the times as long as nothing is done to spoil the natural balance. Arnaud, his brother Lionel and cousin Jean-Christophe, who all head the Bourgeois winery, have made the most of the mountainous terrain and invested in modern technology directly linked to nature. They put in a gravity-fed winery which helps the production but does not change the way the vines or the grapes grow, mature and are harvested. They also did something few traditionalists would ever have contemplated. By investing in land in New Zealand, the old world of French wine has gone to the new world. A jump of faith and an embracing of all that is gloriously new. “Would your grandfather be aghast at this?” I ask Arnaud, trying hard to hide behind my glass full of golden-hued Sancerre. “He would not have done

this I imagine,” Arnaud tells me “But he surely would have said ‘it is now you who are the ones to move on. I did it then. I changed course. I revolutionised all we had and risked a lot. Now go for it. You are doing all of it now,” Arnaud says. In his words and eyes you can see that the grandson truly feels a bond with his grandfather which transcends time. Arnaud believes anything that is done in the name of development needs to be in conformity with nature - as long as that is so then all is good. Venturing into New Zealand was a big step but the Bourgeois business is based on investing everything in the wine itself. They do not go for ostentation and jet-setting. They love life and enjoy it but all profits are poured back into the business. They could have been less adventurous and gone somewhere easier than New Zealand but they found in Marlborough just the right location and the right terrain. Interestingly, the New Zealand tract they invested in is a mountainous one just like the Loire ones.

July/August 2014


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“We don’t want to re-create what we have in Sancerre and Pouilly sur Loire. We want the wines there to have their own stamp of authenticity. Our market share in New Zealand is under 20%, as what we want is to have the quality in top restaurants and export the rest. We are happy with the results and look forward to even more development.”

to mention his father who is still very involved in the business. He loves travelling all over the world expounding on why the Bourgeois way, the natural way, is the right one. His father and his sons try visiting over 40 countries a year to tell people in the trade and other wine enthusiasts all about Sancerre and the other white wines as well as the few red ones they produce.

Talk of export - and dissemination of knowledge about wine and its cultivation and land-- gets Arnaud

What I finally ask Arnaud is “What is wine to you?” He laughs another of his low-decibel but hearty laughs and says


in a hushed tone - “wine is my mistress. Pity I spend so much time with her and not with my wife and children.” I leave the meeting glowing - not from the wine but from the passion and knowledge that Arnaud Bourgeois has managed to impart in the short time we have spent together. Passion and love are in the wines I have tasted and many who drink them will fall in love not only with their mistresses or lovers but with these wines touched by nature’s very hand.

July/August 2014


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we are experiencing cramming, and a unique presentation is key to the customer ‘wow’ factor.

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In a bid to increase the digital content available online about Malta's holiday offer, the Malta Tourism Authority launched BLOG ISLAND MALTA.

The Blog Island Malta project will bring together 72 bloggers from all corners of the world over a period of 12 weeks. Each blogger will spend 5 days experiencing all that the Maltese Islands have to offer to leisure travellers.

To ensure that this project will be successful, MTA teamed up with the iAmbassador blogger network. The iAmbassador team, represented by Melvin Boecher, is a network of professional bloggers from around the world. Since the launch of the project at the beginning of March, over 600 bloggers have applied to be selected and chosen by the MTA to visit the Maltese islands. Blog Island Malta will be split up in


2 phases during 2014. The first phase, with accommodation in Valletta, started in April and ended towards the end of May with 10 sessions of five nights each. The second phase will take place from the 1st October till the 15th November 2014 and the accommodation will be in Gozo. The Malta Tourism Authority entered into an agreement with Palazzo Prince D’Orange, as the accommodation for

the first phase of Blog Island Malta. The Palazzo Prince D’Orange gave the bloggers the possibility to live in an exclusive Palazzo within the capital city experiencing first hand all that the historical gems Valletta has to offer. The MTA has appointed Air Malta as the official airline of this initiative and a dedicated hash Tag MALTA IS MORE will be used by all bloggers visiting Malta (#MaltaisMore).

July/August 2014


Minister for Tourism Dr Edward Zammit Lewis launching the Blog Island initiative flanked by MTA CEO Mr Josef Formosa Gauci and Mr Melvin Bocher from iAmbassador Group Over the period of 12 weeks the MTA's target is to generate a total of 250 blog posts, that will reach the markets of the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Scandanavia, Benelux and Russia as well as long haul markets such as China, Brazil and the USA. MTA expects a diverse array of content (text, photography, video), across blogs and social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, facebook, Pinterest, G+, youtube, etc. Furthermore through this activity, the MTA estimates reaching around 7 million twitter accounts and 5 million facebook accounts with 10.000 tweets and 1000 FB posts respectively. Commenting on this partnership with iAmbassador MTA CEO Mr. Josef Formosa Gauci said. “This initiative showed how the MTA has been adjusting its marketing strategy to keep abreast with the changing environment in our source and emerging markets.


We are stepping up our promotion to ensure that travel content on Malta is also present on social media and travel blogs, whilst maintaining all the PR activity on traditional media.” During the weeks which the Bloggers spent in Malta, they were very active posting their first-hand experience of the Maltese Islands. Recent statistical results are impressive, whereby the project has now reached over 176,500,000 opportunities to see (OTS). This created an advertising value (AVE) of over €2,700,000. One of the many interesting blog entries which was uploaded, was ‘Charmed by diminutive Valletta, Malta’, which can be accessed from charmed-by-diminutive-vallettamalta/. This blog entry provides its readers with a general overview of Malta, followed by a more detailed outlook of Valletta.

Ciki, one of the main contributors of the blog, describes a few of the excursions to historical sites around Malta to historical sites, such as the Hypogeum and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The blogger also spends a good portion of the write up discussing Maltese cuisine and her personal experiences with our national food traditions. Another interesting blog entry which was written by Rob focused on Gozo. This blog entry, which is titled ‘Day Trip to the Maltese Island of Gozo’, focuses on Rob’s adventures in Gozo during his short stay. This blogger travels around Gozo on the hop-on hopoff tourist bus. This took him to numerous churches around the island, including Ta’ Pinu, and to one of the main tourist attractions in Gozo, the Azure window. This blog can be accessed from http://

July/August 2014


Olly’s for taste Oliver Bertermann

A company with a reputation built over a span of nearly 150 years undoubtedly looks after its brand more than most other companies. Few in Malta are as old as P Cutajar, and its sterling reputation shines on even after all these years. So when it decided to launch its own brand of

foodstuffs, it went the hard way of sourcing only the best, investing in top quality. That is how Olly’s was born, with all its products manufactured at OSI in Germany, Austria and Hungary under the sharp eye of Oliver Bertermann. The OSI range of foodstuffs has been imported to Malta by P. Cutajar for a number of years, so the progression to Olly’s was more than natural and smooth. Dennis Zammit Cutajar, Sales and Marketing Director at P Cutajar, made sure that the same stringent conditions used by OSI for their own brands


would be used for Olly’s, P Cutajar’s first foray into the world of food production. Insider meets Oliver Bertermann who, in between launching Olly’s and meeting a number of top food operators in Malta, dedicated some time to outline why OSI and P Cutajar make such a winning team.

Olly’s is all made to stringent levels at OSI factories using only topgrade produce. The range includes Angus burgers, prime beef burgers, chicken fingers and chicken nuggets. The Angus burger has no spices or additives at all and the whole range of burgers is a victory in taste. The slogan used for the range of Olly’s burgers says it all - it’s all beef and no bull.

July/August 2014


Olly's Angus Beef Burger: "All beef and no bull"

The aim is to have food products that can be bought from retail outlets for home cooking. Olly’s offers tasty and healthy convenience food to rival any gourmet burger - or chicken burger outlet. As Bertermann says it’s “relatively healthy, tasty but convenient food.” And for the grand eaters Olly’s star product is an Angus XXL burger, a 14 cm 100% premium burger of tasty meatiness. The raw material - the meat that goes into all the products produced on behalf of Olly’s - nearly all comes from Austria. OSI have four slaughterhouses of their own and various production plants. All of them follow the most stringent measures to make sure all is done not just according to the strictest EU rules but beyond. Oliver Bertermann tells Insider that when, because of the heavy demand for their products, they have to outsource farms and slaughterhouses, OSI makes sure the same measures are put into place. A team of 35 people from OSI inspect these outsourced farms and slaughterhouses and ensure that all meat and produce is recorded and audited.

Bertermann is a chef who trained with Michelin-star restaurants, and is also a leading expert in food handling and preparation. His main concern with OSI and Foodworks (an OSI company which supervises all meat processing) is product development and business relations. He is fascinated by Malta. The OSI/P Cutajar relationship started five years ago, when P Cutajar started importing their foodstuffs. Bertermann is hugely impressed by the way the Malta market responded to the products. Growth was phenomenal, proving that the Maltese do not care just about price but more about quality. To start with, OSI products were only available in restaurants and other gourmet outlets, but they will now be available in retail shops for consumers. “I’m so impressed by the way P Cutajar has penetrated the market,” Bertermann tells Insider. “We never believed we could get to this stage in such a small market. We saw how quality-conscious P Cutajar are and how they prized good products so teaming up was a mutual choice -

we both value our reputation, and look after it. P Cutajar has been a company that excelled throughout the years - and by agreeing to produce Olly’s we fully endorsed them and their methods which are as strict as ours.” OSI produces burgers for some of the leading outlets - from Hard Rock and TGIF to Hooters. OSI can also produce burgers to the outlet’s recipe as long as this is up to standard and a certain volume is guaranteed. OSI also produces a range of Kobe burgers which are obviously higher in price - but juicier, tastier and even more gourmet than the rest because the meat is so particularly special. This is as yet an untapped niche but, as with all quality choice, the demand will grow as more discerning people go for ever better quality. Just as leading German car brands have been the bar for all others to follow, so now Malta has its own top food products made in German style which will set their own bar of excellence.


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Taking Cuisine to New Heights

Paul Fleri Soler

The world may be influenced by the breathtaking global reach and exceptional service level of Emirates, but the cuisine of our Emirates award-winning airline is in turn influenced by the world. This cuisine is legendary Arabic hospitality flawlessly blending with the world’s finest dishes to create something truly unique. As an airline dedicated to welcoming direct feedback by passengers, we strive to provide what travellers want rather than what other carriers provide. In the process, a gastronomic experience has been successfully shaped in which innovative food creations match premium beverages in perfect harmony. And it does that 125,000 times a day. One tray at a time. The sheer scale of operations is aweinspiring. Months of research lead to well-crafted menus. The rigorous planning then takes the form of daily preparation – in an unending, 24 hour cycle – followed by serving the meals to passengers from virtually all corners of the world. Along the way, the airline studies flight routes, regions, passenger traffic, food


preferences, produce availability and cultural requirements, weight, taste, and, importantly, presentation.

Guild of Masters of Wine in the UK, the most senior world authority on wines.

For a typical Emirates airline flight, the meal that is placed before passengers is planned a year earlier, picked from a range of 80,000 recipes, made with ingredients from farms as near as Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates or as far away as Australia, and prepared by skilled chefs – many of whom boast Michelin-star experience.

Those travelling in style in business and first-class are served five- and seven-course meals respectively on bone china tableware complete with tray tables covered in fine linen.

A wide range of special meals including 23 variations, from vegetarian to gluten-free, can be ordered to meet religious and medical dietary needs, while the airline’s choice of top-quality wines, including champagne and vintage port, is specially selected every year by the

As part of our new Children’s Product, the airline has designed an inspiring children’s menu. The service has been designed in brand new colours, giving children their own livery of purple, green and yellow which is applied to cutlery, tray mats, snack boxes, headset bags, as well as the toy bags. Specially designed by Emirates Flight Catering, the aim was to create a kids’ menu that allows Emirates’ multi-

July/August 2014


national young passengers to enjoy both variety and their favourite dishes. As far back as November 2005, the airline began offering a fantastic new wine list featuring some of the best champagnes, red and white wines, and ports sourced from some of the finest wine-producing regions across the network. The offering continues to include top-of-the-range Premier Cru, Grand Cru Classe and premium quality wines from France, California, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Germany. A regular winner of “Best Airline Food” awards in the Executive Travel (now OAG) Airline of the Year awards in London, Emirates became the first airline in the world to achieve ISO accreditation for its in-flight services in 1996.

Paul Fleri Soler is Emirates' Malta Manager

Emirates’ Meals in Figures - 1 passenger at a time: • •

2,500 menus; 80,000 recipes per year

125,000 meals per day; 150,00 per day during peak of summer traffic •

34 special loading bays; 18 of them in use at any point in time •

3,500 staff members working on 24/7 shifts

2.5 million housekeeping items, including cutlery, crockery and glassware sanitised per day

27 staff at in-house laboratory maintain food quality control and safety •

34,000 fruit salads; 20,000 sandwiches; 77,000 starters per day •

• •

7 sections in kitchen: Far Eastern, Arabic & Middle East, Continental, Japanese, Sub-continent, and Special Meals

45 minutes in a blast chiller to preserve meals’ longevity after preparation 24 hrs before take-off for new preparation; 12 hrs before flight for dishing meals



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with sweet gods Victor Calleja

Demos - sounds just like a Greek hero of old, or a lesser-known god of Olympus. And that is exactly how my Athens sojourn combined with a high-level pastry seminar felt like. It was as if I was in the midst of dreams, surrounded by gods, goddesses and their sweet ambrosia. The two-day seminar, organised by Gastronomy Essentials, was full of demos. Demos as in demonstrations, eye-catching sweetness as delicious as it was surprising.


July/August 2014


The editor with the people behind the success of the pastry seminar in Athens. From left Victor Calleja, Fay Zagouris, Jordi Puiguert and Harry Harambidis Tastes that change your old views, presentations that haunt you and best of all a proper and intelligent embracing of new waves. But these new waves - molecular gastronomy waves - ever-present during the seminar, did so much more than just impress or shock. Taste, true, good taste, was the most important feature, even while presentation, smells, texture and surprise all played their part. Everything was well-thought out, giving us, the audience, ample food for thought. I attended the seminar feeling slightly overwhelmed and daunted by the leading pastry chefs and other highranking staff from top Greek hotels and other establishments who were attending too. And orchestrating it all like a maestro was Jordi Puigvert assisted by Fay Zagouris, a Greek-Canadian pastry chef who is considered one of the top in Greece. The Puigvert/Zagouris duo know their food, are highly-acclaimed and have a style that instantly captures


your attention. They are naturals not just at the food talk but also at the banter between pastry chefs. They would make a good TV team dishing out the fun and these amazing desserts while making it all not just entertaining but also instructional. Athens was a true delight. I hadn’t been around the city proper for some time and, even if I did encounter some mayhem, I love the buzz there. Of course it helped that Harry Harambidis, the soul behind Gastronomy Essentials, was my guide and organiser. When we were not being shown the best way to prepare sweets for hotels and restaurants we toured the city and sampled a few restaurants, coffee shops and hotels. It was all very much of an eye-opener. Greece has terrible economic woes but the people still make the most of their free time and the level of food and service is high. Tourism has grown since the economy hit rock-bottom and they seem to have responded well with what they have on offer, which is good

to see as Athens deserves its reputation as an exciting destination. The food in Athens, if enjoyed in the right places, is a joy to discover. I met a Michelin-starred chef, Ettore Botrini, who started off in Corfu with his father, moved to Athens and now runs a restaurant in Athens and one in Corfu very successfully. Talk about being international. Food travels brilliantly as proved to perfection by this trip. Food and its loving care beats xenophobia, election fevers, hatred and all other man-made barriers. I think we should all ask our political leaders to move out and get foodies to run our countries. Oh what fun not to have to digest boring grey suits and even more boring ideas and instead talk constantly about food and its ways. Meeting the Spanish Pastry chef Jordi Puigvert Talk of food and waves in the culinary world and Jordi Puigvert fits in perfectly.

July/August 2014


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things himself. “I love producing something which satisfies the chefs themselves at my seminars and demonstrations. If I see they are happy with my results and with my ways I am more than satisfied. If anything I say or come up with manages to inspire people that is great news to me.”

New currents, new waves

He has the face of a young boy up to some naughty tricks. He’s all that is good in professional pastry. He cares about the way it is prepared and the way it looks but most of all he cares passionately about what people enjoy. When I meet him to find out more about the man and his ways he is as bubbly as ever even if he is catching a plane in less than three hours. “My life has become racing from one destination to another finding out all about what others do and giving back what I have learnt,” he tells me. Puigvert, who is Catalan, was an acclaimed patisserie chef at Michelinstarred restaurants before launching Sweet ’N Go, a company specialising in patisserie training, consultancy and demonstrations for restaurants and cake shops. He is also a teacher at a top hospitality Spanish school in Girona and adviser and technical demonstrator to various leading food companies around the world.


The Puigvert CV is truly amazing he is also a consultant for Sosa, one of the leading companies involved in food production and ingredients which make most of molecular gastronomy possible. Puigvert’s list of engaging appointments all connect somehow to make the preparation of pastry even more palatable, even more enjoyable. This is why he is constantly globe-trotting. And people in the patisserie industry, as I saw and experienced myself, love his ways. He is talented and finds it easy to impart that talent. One of the questions I ask him is does he miss being in the thick of kitchens, producing sweet stuff ? He says he does sometimes. If it’s in your blood stream it’s difficult to forget or live without the adrenaline that grips you when preparing all things connected to pastry. But he compensates by always being handson in his demos and preparing most

The description molecular gastronomy has always frightened me. I still find it a hard, harsh description to entice any traditionalist or even just a food-lover with. “Doesn’t it remind you”, I ask Puigvert, “of something scientific and unappetising?” Instead of the expected anger and being asked to go and learn all there is to learn about patisserie and its preparation the Sweet ‘N Go man smiles even more. “I hate the word actually,” he tells me, and admits he much prefers talking of new currents, new waves. To Puigvert food is the most important part of life - without it we cannot survive. But to this basic need is added a most important ingredient - the touch of the new which excites, which gives our food a new dimension. And this is where Sosa himself and Ferran Adria started it all. When the two were still together they had managed to come up with an amazing feat - the first olive oil spherification. The rest is history and Sosa and Adria went on their separate ways and went on trail-blazing away in food, its preparation and ingredients. To many the change was seen not as a drastic one but a new attitude, a search for new experiences, previously undreamt-of combinations. And it is not that food is becoming a science but food preparers who are learning more about all it takes to produce a

July/August 2014


more memorable food experience. And, besides encouraging new attitudes to what we eat, the scientific part also helps us understand how food acts, how food is best stored, how food is best prepared to make it last longer and better. Puigvert has taken the change in attitude to food to the world of patisserie. He was trained with the top experts, the ones who made the new waves possible and he has not just embraced these waves but also moved them to a new realm. His passion for the pastry he creates is matched by his passion for telling others all about it. Through his teaching, lecturing and seminars Puigvert has shown new ways of preparing and preserving a whole array of sweet delicacies that will make people love their beauty but enjoy their flavour even more. The new ingredients - texturas & Sosa products - are not part of a revolution but, according to Puigvert, part of evolution. This is what he believes in and what he makes so clear in his presentations. Even his book, all about pastry and its preparation for professionals is simply called, Evolution.

Raspberry Caviar

Published by the renowned Grupo Vilbo, the introduction describes Puigvert perfectly: “this young, experienced professional has deeply researched the technical possibilities of gelling and thickening agents, emulsifiers etc. with a very clear objective - offering the pastry professional specific solutions to fight off everyday problems.” It concludes that Puigvert will “contribute to the evolution - not revolution - of the beloved world of pastry.”

Jordi Puigvert had many interesting things to say and I could go on writing about him and his humour, his knowledge and his humanity. One thing he told me to definitely emphasise is that the seminar in Athens, a great demonstration of what heights food can reach, was perfectly organised by Gastronomy Essentials, led by Harry Harambidis. Even though it came between other mad dashes around the world, for Puigvert the Athens foray was unforgettable thanks to Harry and his team.

Food remains a pleasure to be enjoyed and Puigvert’s idea is to be as open, as demonstrative of all his skills and ideas as possible.

I realise that Athens and patisserie, amazing patisserie, will always remain stuck in my head as being up there with the sweet gods.


An interesting fact I learnt from Harry Harambidis of Gastronomy Essentials is that he is planning a seminar about the new waves in food preparation to be held in the future in Malta. It will be most interesting to see this seminar taking shape for all Malta-based chefs and Pastry chefs to enjoy.

July/August 2014


Nowadays, everyone recognises that Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) constitute the backbone of the European economy. Currently, there are 20.3 million SMEs in Europe, accounting for over 98% of businesses and generating 90 million jobs within the single market.

Easier Access to Finance for Microenterprises and SMEs Peter James Sant

In its annual report on European SMEs for 2012/2013 published last November, the European Commission states that it looks at 2013 as the turning point for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008 that saw Europe lose over 1 million SMEs. After five years of uncertain economic growth, it is expected that the total employment in the EU SMEs will


increase by 0.3%. Forecasts also anticipate further acceleration in positive developments for SMEs. Against this background of gradual economic recovery, the European Commission is seeking to place ‘access to finance’ at the top of its agenda. Following the recent agreement between the European Council,

the European Parliament and the European Commission, the 2014-2020 financial perspectives have come up with a significant number of initiatives to further improve the environment in which SMEs operate. The European Authorities are placing greater emphasis on financial engineering instruments, instead of the traditional grant schemes.

July/August 2014




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Cannon Road, Qormi QRM 9039, Malta. Tel: 2144 1750 / 2144 1754 / 2144 1471 Cannon Road, Qormi QRM 90 Fax: 2144 1719 Email: Cannon Road, Qor

Tel: 2144Tel: 1750 / 2144 1754 / 2144 1750 / 21 Cannon Road, Qormi QRM 9039, Malta.

Key financial instruments of the 2014-2020 Package are ‘the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (COSME)’, Horizon 2020, Progress and the SME Initiative. In addition, one finds a number of financial engineering instruments that can be financed through national structural and cohesion funds. The need to foster the green economy, particularly through start-ups, is key to catalyse economic growth in Europe.

In the last three years, Bank of Valletta in close collaboration with the European Investment Fund, has managed three financial engineering instruments and two JEREMIE Initiatives, which are European Regional Development Funded initiatives that are fully taken-up in a relatively short time.

Furthermore, the Bank has tapped into EU centralised financing opportunities through the Competitiveness Innovation Programme under the SME Micro Credit Window. As a Over the last five years, Bank of result of a successful application, as Valletta has established a niche specialisation in tapping into EU from the beginning of January 2014 financing opportunities to improve the Bank started to promote the the access to finance for Small BOV Start Plus Financing Package and Medium-Sized Enterprises. that is intended to encourage StartUp projects. The BOV Start Plus This has been attained through Financing Package finances up to EUR the development of pre-financing 25,000 of initial working capital and packages linked to traditional grant capital investment of Start-ups that can schemes and soft loans that are be paid over a five-year period subject created from financial engineering to a normal credit evaluation and instruments through the offering of 28244 Generic J&C Pisan#49FE2CD 5/16/13 4:24 PM linked Page 1 to the life-span of the loans. guarantees. C

Composite INSIDER





During the first quarter of 2014, the Bank sanctioned 21 facilities, involving a capital investment of EUR 464 K under the BOV Start Plus initiative. The BOV Start Plus offers advantageous interest rates and enhanced collateral requirements earmarked for startups and micro-enterprises as part of the EU's 2020 Strategy. If not taken up beforehand, the BOV Start Plus scheme will remain open until the 16th December 2114. For more information on the BOV Start Plus Programme, pleasey contact any of Bank of Valletta’s branches or Business Generation & EU Affairs on 2275 1160 or send an e-mail to The BOV Start Plus benefits from a guarantee issued under the European Community’s Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. Mr Peter James Sant is Head of Research and EU Affairs at Bank of Valletta plc.



July/August 2014


A Smart move for the Local Hospitality Industry Take three major IT players in Malta. Get them together to start a great but quite innovative concept like leasing of anything IT-based. Let this expand and consolidate in a most impressive way, then go into another line, offering software solutions in property management systems, and you have an ideal scenario. Add a name like Micros with their Fidelio and Opera systems and you have one great never-ending smart move. Insider takes a glimpse at Smart Technologies, the new agents for Micros and all its products in Malta.


July/August 2014


Fidelio and Opera are not just market-share leaders in hotel operating systems the world over, boasting the biggest chains and hotels among their clients. They are also the standard by which Property Management Systems (PMS) the world over are measured. We meet Smart Technology CEO, Joe Aquilina and the company’s Business Development Manager, Chris Demicoli, at the Hotel Phoenicia. La Grande Dame of Malta’s hotels is an apt choice for our meeting. The Phoenicia is the longest user of Fidelio, with uninterrupted usage of this system. In the world of takeovers and buy-outs a few facts must be established. Micros developed and made Fidelio a household name in hotels, especially in independent ones. Then they launched Opera to target the hotel chains of the world, with both products being very successful and sought after by the market. Micros is also a brand name used for their own Point of Sale (POS) range. And to remain entrenched in the music world, the most efficient POS of Micros is dubbed Symphony. All the music connotations are so apt as all is a well-rehearsed, well-conducted piece of computer wizardry that makes hotels, restaurants and other outlets work better and offer a truly good service. The IT world ensures humans have less worries and less of the tedious repetitive work, to allow them to be even more efficient. IT gives the traveller more independence and more reliability. The latest twists to the Property Management Systems (PMS) world are that Oracle, the giant computer technology corporation which specialises in developing, marketing and acquiring unparalleled Information Systems products, has now bought Micros. Meanwhile, the Malta front is being consolidated by Smart Technology. The company’s CEO, Joe Aquilina, tells us that “the products we represent through Micros are superb everyone knows that. But now more should be done to get them not just known but also used more extensively. In the first months we have already contracted a number of outlets and more are on the way.” When Insider asks Aquilina about the main advantage they will be offering he tells us: “We are offering a financial package that will be hard to beat. For hoteliers our product is basically pay-as-you-go, making it totally affordable, and making the return on their investment immediate while reaping great benefits. Our integrated maintenance agreements are designed to make life easy for the end-user.” In fact, Smart Technology do not just provide the product


and leave it at that. They have invested heavily in human resources, so as to ensure that an optimum service is in fact delivered. Smart Technologies believe in long-term investment while ensuring the local user enjoys immediate benefits and a bigger return. Knowledge transfer is one thing that Micros and Smart believe in wholeheartedly, which is another reason why Micros chose Smart Technologies. Talk of long-term vision gets us to ask the Smart duo about the most important value Fidelio and Opera offer. Chris Demicoli tells Insider that “the best and most obvious is that with these two products and all Micros products you are buying into proven systems that give you more than anything else available on the market. Their proven track record for 25 years gives the products a solid base. The hotel knows the product is here to stay and will have the right updates and support.” Aquilina tells us that all this is a great guarantee for the future. He quips that: “Unlike the financial caveat that says the past is not a guarantee of the future, I can state unequivocally that the past is the guarantee of a good future for the products we offer.” Interestingly what both Smart officials say is borne out by the numbers - in market share Micros and its PMS is more than double the size of its closest rival. Surely so many top operators of leading brands cannot get it all wrong. Aquilina points out that, besides being very aggressive in their marketing with an attractive financial package and very sound and efficient support, they are partnering with the hospitality industry leaders. They have an ongoing sponsorship with MHRA which gives Smart Technologies a significant level of openness to the market. Smart have also partnered with ITS and will be upgrading all their software, giving hospitality students the right training on the right products. Aquilina says: “This is definitely a win/win situation for all concerned. ITS has better tools to teach with, the students gain the experience and better exposure and the trade will have better front liners in place in hospitality outlets. We have financed all this but the exposure we get is more than worth the expense. We also believe this is part of our corporate social responsibility programme. Hospitality is an exciting part of our world and is vital for the island’s economic well-being. Investing in it will surely reap good results.” Fine words, fine sentiments, good vision. Smart Technologies, a company which is truly smart with the proper deliverables.

July/August 2014



Cleaning Material, All Types


The Cleaning Centre

Golden Harvest Mfg Co Ltd UB21, Industrial Estate, San Gwann SGN 3000

T: 21 332 391 F: 21 310 044 E:

27, Garden Street, Gzira GZR 1411 Tel: 21 322 153, 27 005 678 Mob: 99 430 944 Fax: 21 332 938

Disposables & Food Storage

Di Rocco Trading Ltd

Di Rocco Business Complex, Prince Albert Street Albert Town, Marsa MRS 1045


Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi

T: 21 472 552 E: W:

Catering Supplies

T: 2122 7342 / 4 F: 2122 7345 M: 79478222 E: W:

Flags & Banners

Kitchen Hygiene and Housekeeping products


G1 Triq Tal Handaq Tal Handaq Qormi QRM 4000 T: 2141 3154 F: 2131 3183 E: W:


July/August 2014

Gauci Borda & Co. Ltd

53/54, Msida Road, Gzira GZR 1400 T: 2133 4255, 21 313 748 F: 2134 3604 E: W:

General Cleaning/ Professional Window Cleaning


Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi

T: 21 472 552 E:Isabelle.farrugia@ozosystem


Hotel Chambermaid Service/Personal Maid Service

Kitchen Exhaust/ HVAC Systems Cleaning

TCR Services Ltd 15 Triq Iz-Znuber Mosta MST 4000

T: 2143 3200 M: 9945 5152 F: 2142 2020 E: W:

Oriental Sauces

J & E Griscti Ltd Ozosystem

Forestals Building, No 6 Triq L-iskultur Qormi

Importers, General Merchants & Commercial Agents. “Minerva�, Quarries Street, Msida MSD 1103

Tel: 21 472 552 E: Website:

T: 2123 3375, 21 230 071 F: 2123 6904 M: 9947 6732, 9949 9219,

Insurance Services

Security Services

Middlesea Ins. p.l.c

Dedicated Micros (Malta) Limited

Middle Sea House, Floriana FRN 1442

T: Tel: 21 246 262 F: Fax: 21 248 195 E: W:

BLB017, Bulebel Ind. Est., Zejtun ZTN 3000

T: 2148 3673 F: 2144 9170 E:



Software Solutions

Scope Software Solutions

14 Gio Batta Saydon Street, Zurrieq ZRQ 3560 M: 7979 6629 E: W :


In Design (Malta) Ltd. Zebbug Road, Attard ATD 9027

T: 2700 8080 / 2149 8860 F: 2149 4698 E: W:


Siggiewi Road - Zebbug ZBG 2301 - Malta - Tel: 2146 0195 Fax: 2146 0195 Email: - Website:

Entertainment & Culture

Fat Harry’s Pub

Fat Harry’s pub has a unique British pub theme décor walls cluttered with pictures of bygone days, wooden beams, old plank flooring and shelves full of memorabilia for a walk through time. A relaxed atmosphere is always in the air at Fat Harry’s, which also has outdoor seating for summer or for the lovely Maltese winter days. Every night Fat Harry’s boasts some of Malta’s top entertainers besides a Big Screen showing various sports. One can also enjoy a game of darts, dominoes or cards. The Pub always has a fully stocked bar of local and world renowned beers on draught, wines, cocktails and shooters besides a very good selection of imported spirits competitively priced as house specials. Food prepared in house by our team of chefs using fine local produce and ingredients, is served all day. Fat Harry’s favourite is the Traditional Fish n’ Chips and Mushy Peas followed closely by the famous 200g Harry burger and some very tasty rice dishes.


Open every day from 12:00 - 02:00 at Bay Square, Bugibba. Tel: 2157 2163, 2158 1298 Open weekdays from 11.00 - 23.00 and weekends from 11.00 - 23.30 at Level -1, Malta International Airport. Tel: 2757 2163


If you are looking for the freshest seafood, fresh fish and tasty Irish beef steak and you want to spoil yourself, Tal-Familja Restaurant is the place to dine. We serve a variety of seafood and shellfish that is brought in daily from local seafood markets. The restaurant’s most

popular starter is the antipasti of shellfish and this is usually followed up with a grilled or poached fresh fish or a mouth-watering prime cut Irish beef steak accompanied with side dishes of roast potatoes, grilled fresh vegetables and freshly- made salad. Our home made desserts include panna cotta, crème brulée and hot chocolate pudding served with a scoop of ice-cream. Guests can choose to sit outside on the terrace enjoying country views or inside in cool air-conditioned comfort. Early bookings are recommended!! We are now accepting reservations for staff parties... have a look at our staff parties set menus on our website. You can also join us on Facebook. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11.00 - 23.30 Mondays closed all day Triq il-Gardiel, Marsascala Tel: 2163 2161 - 9947 3081 Now also open Palazzo Preca in Strait Street, Valletta

Mirabelle Restaurant

The Mirabelle restaurant has been operated by the Debattista family since 1980. In 1999 the restaurant was completely renovated and themed with a cottage style interior, giving you a warm and relaxed feeling the minute you walk in. It is perfect for lunch with friends, a special celebration, or a romantic dinner for two. One can also dine alfresco, with St. Paul’s Islands just across the bay. One of the family, Godwin, is the head chef and he always uses fresh ingredients for the good selection of pizza, pasta, salads and succulent steaks. His Specials of the Day have become very popular with our guests. Quality of service is very important at the Mirabelle, and another member of the family is always around, helping out and making sure that all are enjoying their food.

Open every day from 9:30 - 23:30 at Bay Square, Bugibba. Tel: 2157 2163, 2158 1298

July/August 2014


La Rive

comfy seating, either on the melt-into leather sofas or the bucket chairs. La Rive also caters for private functions.

Just a few steps away from the hustle and bustle of the Sliema shops, La Rive offers its clientele a chillout lounge serving exquisite food and wine. Its chic ambience presents a clean design with beautiful views of the high, well-lit bastions of Valletta and Manoel Island. This tranquil wine bar is wonderfully lit up by candles at night, perfect for enjoying a glass of wine and nibbles, and suitable for a quick getaway for a bite at lunch. An appetising selection of dishes varies from Ravioli Asparagi to crispy beef salad or Chicken Caesar to a delicious ciabatta. One may also choose from the extensive daily specials and vegetarian alternatives are available. La Rive offers an extensive wine list of 100 local and foreign wines as well a fully equipped bar and

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday From 10.00 a.m. to 01.00 a.m La Rive 33-34, Tigné Seafront, Sliema. Tel: 2131 8323, 9944 5102 email:

Blue Creek Restaurant

Blue Creek Restaurant tucked away in Malta’s southern coast is the ideal destination for sumptuous business lunches and private functions, combining all the luxury of its stunning surroundings and scenery with a mouth watering dining experience.

Just on the outskirts of Siggiewi, Blue Creek allows its patrons to relax and dine in the cooling breeze of the terrace, providing a welcome break from a hectic day of meetings and stifling offices. If you would like to impress a client and close that crucial business deal, then we recommend our terrace for a delicious lunch surrounded by the beauty of nature. Off the beaten track, you can enjoy our delicious seasonal a la carte menu, of the main courses, fresh fish, fresh seafood, grills, and our homemade mouth watering desserts. Thanks to our knowledge of our products and our innovative techniques we can promise not only a tantalizing array of food served in generous Mediterranean portions but flair in the presentation of preparation of every dish that leaves our kitchen. Our restaurant’s relaxed yet formal atmosphere creates a pleasing and stylish dining experience for business lunches in Malta, and already we have welcomed numerous corporate clients through our doors to sample our freshest produce pre-

pared by our expert chefs. If you are seeking to impress, look no further than Blue Creek Restaurant, the restaurant at the water’s edge. Open every day except Tuesday and Thursday evenings Lunch: 1200 – 15.00 Dinner: Friday and Saturday 7.00pm – 11.00pm Ghar Lapsi, lo Siggiewi Tel: 2146 2800 / 21462786

Email: Web:


July/August 2014



in tune with global themes The violin is one of the most rewarding and beautiful instruments to play. Talented violinists are disciplined and committed to produce exceptional melody. Likewise, JO Hambro Investment Management Limited, the sub‑investment managers of the Vilhena Global Themed Fund, vigilantly identify and select companies worldwide by adopting a strong thematic strategy aiming to capture attractive returns.

Vilhena Global Themed Fund 80072344 i

BOV Branches/Investment Centres & Licensed Financial Intermediaries Past performance is not a guarantee to future performance. The value of the investment can go down as well as up and currency fluctuations and any initial charges may lower the amount invested and the amount received upon redemptions. Investments should be based on the full details of the Prospectus and the Key Investor Information Document which may be obtained from Valletta Fund Management Limited (VFM), Bank of Valletta plc Branches/Investment Centres and other Licensed Financial Intermediaries. VFM is licensed by the MFSA. The Vilhena Funds SICAV plc is licensed by the MFSA and qualifies as a UCITS. Issued by VFM, TG Complex, Suite 2, Level 3, Triq il-Birrerija, L-Imriehel, BKR 3000, Malta. Tel: (356) 21227311, Fax: (356) 22755661, Email:, Website: Source: VFM

Insider 09  
Insider 09