Keith Abela’s interest in catering began at a young age, when he spent a lot of time in the restaurant kitchen ran by his grandfather. However, his real love of food comes from his father, as the two spent plenty of time on the family farm – rearing animals, collecting eggs, planting and harvesting produce, and, on weekends, foraging, fishing, making wine, making pickles or even gathering salt from rock pools on Comino.
This exposure to wild ingredients, seasonality and a respect for nature promoted his veneration for the local landscape and its traditions. Keith began his career in catering at 14 and he quickly fell in love with the lure of the kitchen. He soon enrolled in the Institute of Tourism Studies. In 2008 he moved to Jersey to work at The Grand Jersey Hotel under Albert & Michael Roux; here he learnt classic techniques, the importance of local, fresh produce and self-discipline.He also started to study food science.
A year later, Keith returned to Malta to work in a Japanese restaurant, which taught him the key techniques of Japanese cooking, followed by a number of other establishments on the island. In 2012 he opened his own restaurant, Sammy’s in Xemxija, where he focused particularly on the use of fresh, sustainable and wild ingredients. Meanwhile, Keith also lectured at MCAST, where he taught ‘Food Tasting and Flavour Sciences’. He also gave live cooking demos at ITS and for private classes, as well as lectured at Malta Café Scientifique on ‘the science and psychology of flavour’ and ‘protein denaturisation’. Keith is regularly invited to give talks and demos on both TV and radio.