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Written By : jonathan Bryce. Cooking up a great meal is a great challenge, even for the world’s greatest chefs. At the Baristas Breakfast and Lunch Café, Ms Marica Lebatovola works as their head cook and aspires to go very far in the chef’s world. Ms Lebatovola has been a chef for the last six years and is working her second year at the Baristas Café. She began studying the fine art of cooking in 2003 when she went for her first level training at the catering classes in a School of Hospitality.
Afterwards, she got her first job as a professional cook working at the Yacht Club for their Dock Side Gallery. She worked there for two years. Ms Lebatovola loves to cook many different varieties of food, but said that her specialty lies in creating the sauces and salads for her customers. She also spoke on the many challenges and struggles she had to go through as a professional chef. “It’s always a challenge and a lot of it depends of the customers. There are many things that contribute, for example when the kitchen staff aren’t able to cook up their orders on time, it leads to delays and makes me have to do everything myself. Sometimes, the kitchen staff can have everything ready and then find out that the restaurant staffs aren’t ready. These are some of the big troubles that a chef really worries about” said Ms Lebatovola.
Despite the challenges of the job, Ms Lebatovola continues to cook with a passion. “I just really enjoy cooking, especially for my child at home. In cooking, everyday is a new experience.” Ms Lebatovola has always tried to accommodate to the needs of her customers saying that she tries her best to stick to her routines.
“We have to be very flexible for the customers, because the customer is always right and it’s a challenge sometimes. You just have to approach it with common sense and understanding.” One of the great aspirations Marica Lebatovola hopes for is having her own restaurant some day in the future. At the moment she plans to continue her commitment to the Baristas Café.
“I worked several years in dining room service, at the bar and as a waitress, for the hotel industry.” said Ms Lebatovola. “Wanting to be a chef just came up in my mind during that time when I worked in the kitchen and decided that I wanted to pursue this dream.”
The Baristas Café is a restaurant that only opens for breakfast and lunch, but closes its doors for the evening. Ms Lebatovola said that she is very skilled in cooking up items for a dinner menu, but since the café does not serve dinner, she has been unable to show how strong her dinner cooking skills are.
Ms Lebatovola said that one of the dishes she would love to cook up for a dinner crowd would be a number of seafood dishes as well as ‘Surf and Turf’ which is dish with steak and prawns. Ms Lebatovola also spoke on how so much of her inspiration came from her tutor during her training days. She said he gave her a lot of encouragement and advised her to travel overseas and learn the art of cooking from other nations.
One of the many recipes that Marica Lebatovola cooks up is the Smoked Walu and Potato Cakes, which she shared with us.
l 500 grams of smoked walu fish
l 200 grams of mashed potatoes
l A bundle of dhania
l A bundle of spring inions
l A quarter cup of crater cheese
1. First shred the smoked walu
2. Add the dhania and inions
3. Add the cheese,
4. Mold it into portions.
5. Grill it on the grill.
6. Serve it on a bed of salad
7. Add the mashed potato cake
8. Butter it with mango salsa and put other potato cake on top and sprinkle it with salsa and chopped parsley. Marica Lebatovola has a great deal of pride in her cooking and concluded with this one piece of advice for all future chefs who were learning to become professional cooks. “Go out into the industry and put into practice what you’ve learned from school. Take pride in what you’ve learnt and while you’re out there, try and learn new things as well.”