Where to begin? Marvin Gauci, a father, a mentor, a chef and restauranteur of undoubted greatness and a gastronomic icon. A magician in the kitchen who is always ready to pull out of his hat something amazing. His work plays on a very fine line which distinguishes what is defined as logical from what may be regarded as extravagant, nonconformist, and unconventional. He is focused and uncompromising. But he is also kind, gentle, warm, caring and openly emotional, with a smile and a laugh that lights up a room and comes through in every dish. Marvin is someone who can be a mentor, an inspi- ration and at the same time, he can easily terrorize the hell out of everyone with his perfection. Irrespective of whether critics like his work or not, they all agree that he is a genius, an expo- nent of local talent and a champion of excellence. Indeed, people who are well-versed with the culinary industry know that one doesn’t need to describe what this man is capable of doing.
There is direct connection between food and Marvin. They are like salt and pepper, rum and coke or gin and tonic. Marvin notes, “my passage through the pathway of life saw me come across food on var- ious occasions and in every instance (irrespective of whether good or bad) it left an important imprint on me. I have often wondered how the taste or smell of freshly baked local bread, a sweet, a cake or an entire meal is capable of painting a picture with richer, deeper brush strokes than any snapshot in my photograph album. It is indeed amazing how food evokes memories connected to my home town, my family and my culinary career.”
What really developed Marvin from a culinary point of view was his experience beyond our shores. He notes, “Any person vying a career in the food industry should expose itself to gastronomic experiences beyond our shores irrespective of whether it is by working abroad or by simply travelling to other countries and learn other food traditions. I had the opportunity to do both.” He adds, “My time at the Buswells Hotel in Dublin and managing a restaurant within a renowned golf club in Ireland were import- ant as much as my time travelling across all conti- nents. Travelling offered me the possibility to look at food from a different angle. It gave me the oppor- tunity to come across new tastes and flavours which I gradually introduced in my own work. Travelling also served as a stimulus to push my approach in the kitchen to its limits.”
Whilst Marvin remains loyal to his family’s food traditions, he seeks to evolve it with new techniques and ingredients he constantly comes across during his regular trips around the world. “My work at the Wild Thyme and later at Tarragon, Buddhamann, Caviar&Bull and Susurrus are the product of my evolving food experience. Every outlet has at its core the fundamental elements of my family’s cooking methods which are happily fused with key cultures to create a clear identity which distinguishes one from the other.”
Although he tends to travel extensively, Marvin does not have any favourite city for food. He feels every place can offer an interesting culinary spot. “The traditional cu- linary map has changed offering fine dining experiences beyond Florence, Paris and London. The culinary world has opened up to new culinary realities in Eastern Europe such as Hungary, Latvia and even Croatia. Moreover, the con- stant movement of people from one country to another has created a new phenomenon where you can experience an amazing Peruvian meal at the heart of Budapest or in narrow streets of Rome.”
Food is also one of the things that drew Marvin to his wife. “They say that ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’ and indeed Alison is. She is an amazing per- son with such a determination to reach every target she sets. She is my bastion on whom I bank so much. She is my alter ego and ensures every idea that crosses my mind is devel- oped into something tangible and successful.”
Food is indeed a bit of every piece of Marvin’s life. It touches on every component that forms his microcosm. From Tarragon to Caviar&Bull up to Susurrus and Dinner in the Sky and Uncensored – every project is connected in some way to food. That is Marvin, a Peter Pan in a food journey which has led him to a few disappointments yet also many achievements. Marvin, the l’enfant terrible who continues to amaze, create and inspire.