It’s the end of Roger Friggieri’s first year as Executive Chef at InterContinental, and one that he will look back on with pride. “2017 was a massive year for us – it’s been the busiest year for the hotel in the past 13 years. The Food and Beverage sector was busy throughout the year, and we had three particularly high-profile conferences – the IHG sales forum, the Malta EPP congress, and the Chanel salesforce AGM – taking place here. We also opened new outlets, revamped old menus, and were busy with banqueting all throughout the year.”
The most notable of these new outlets may just be SKYBEACH bar and restaurant, which is located on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Hotel. Boasting incredible views and a lush infinity pool, Chef Roger says SKYBEACH is all about ‘exclusivity’. “There aren't any other places like it, on the rooftop of a five-star property.” With an ambiance that’s tailored for summer parties, SKYBEACH is now closed until next May.
SKYBEACH at the InterContinental
But don’t be fooled into thinking the InterContinental team are going into hibernation just because it’s winter. The hotel’s flagship seaside restaurant, Paranga, which has been in operation for 13 years, is also preparing for some changes come 2018. “We’re setting up a pizzeria on the terrace, as well as an artisanal ice cream parlour,” Chef Roger confides.
Meanwhile, Chef Roger’s personal favourite among InterContinental’s eight restaurants is Waterbiscuit. “I don’t want to say it’s fine dining, because it’s not; it’s a casual diner with style. The presentation is outstanding. There are a team of very talented chefs running the show – just give them the guide lines and they’ll do the rest.”
The food and beverage section of the InterContinental Hotel grows and shrinks according to seasonality, varying between 50 and 75 chefs, and between 18 to 32 stewards, and Chef Roger is quick to sing the praises of Maltese catering talent. “I direct a team of very talented chefs. I’ve been to many places – Kuwait, Libya, Georgia, Mauritius – but Maltese chefs are some of the best in the world. If they really want to be part of the industry, they’re hard-working, good at what they do and fast learners, with the drive to succeed.”
Naturally, the team is now firing on all cylinders to prepare for Christmas, from chocolate centrepieces and decorations to the truckload of turkeys the hotel will be serving up to its patrons. “Although my input is in everything we serve, I make sure to leave something to their own creativity, otherwise it would be impossible to keep the teams motivated. I just come emphasise what needs to be in the plate – flavours, textures, and temperatures – and let them do the rest. They have a great deal of pride in everything they do, so I can rely on them to serve a product that will make us proud.”
Being located in St Julian’s, where there are more than a hundred restaurants jostling for clients, Chef Roger says the competition is ‘cut-throat’, but he seems quietly confident. It’s the eve of Valletta 2018, and he says that January is already full to bursting with banqueting events, a trend he expects to continue throughout the year. “We’re just fine-tuning the calendar of events now – we plan to host markets and festivals throughout the year. 2017 was a busy year, but I’m sure 2018 will be even busier!”
Visit malta.intercontinental.com to find out more