Chef Stefan Hogan joined the Corinthia Palace Hotel, Malta in 1993 when the place was going through a major refurbishment and recruiting new talent. Energetic, ambitious and creative, Hogan was the perfect fit for the new identity that the property wanted to carve for itself. Twenty-five years later, Hogan is one of the most celebrated chefs across the entire hotel group and remains as passionate about his work as when he first started out. He has also worked in his private capacity at some of the world’s most renowned restaurants, like the Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford, UK. According to Hogan, “Whenever you walk into someone else’s kitchen, you walk away with new ideas and come back energized." It is this desire to learn that keeps his ideas fresh and his recipes unique, much like his signature dish —the Bahrija rabbit Assiette.

QUICK BITES

How you arrived at your signature dish

The rabbit dish I cooked has featured on a number of menus and every time I cook it, I look at ways to make it look and taste better, but more importantly to showcase the best of Maltese produce. As the dish evolves however there are three star components that are always present. The main star is the rabbit loin, rolled with a light rabbit mousse and wrapped in pancetta. The second ingredient is the fresh figs, I cannot imagine a Maltese summer without them and the third star is the pumpkin (in the recipe we have it as a puree, pickled and as a fondant). All three ingredients have strong connections to traditional Maltese cuisine.

The best meal you’ve eaten

The 12-course tasting menu at Per Se in New York by chef Thomas Keller.

What’s is your ‘death row’ meal?

Fish and chips from Tom Kerridge’s restaurant at the Corinthia London, an example of how a simple dish can be elevated with the freshest ingredients and techniques.

The next big food trend is…

Plant-based protein will continue to grow as a trend and become mainstream as the increased pressures on the conventional protein-based food chain become increasingly relevant.

Your favourite ingredient to work with

I would have to go with mushrooms as most have a meaty bite and umami flavours and can be incorporated into so many recipes.

Most adventurous thing you’ve eaten

Sheep’s intestines stuffed with minced lamb, chopped heart and liver, onions, spices and rice. This traditional no-wastage Arabic dish is very close to my food philosophy.

Most underrated culinary destination

South America. It is a wealth of exciting ingredients that are only now being explored by mainstream chefs.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a chef?

I feel blessed that I get the opportunity to create interesting food and develop future chefs. I believe that I have a great responsibility to not only transfer cooking skills but also a respect for all the ingredients we use to create our dishes.

This is part of photographer Rohit Chawla’s special series on celebrated chefs from around the world.

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