Maltese Food Icon Kevin Bonello Arrives at The Grand, York

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Kevin Bonello has some big ideas for what will end up on our plates!

There are major things happening at The Grand, York. Within these pages, we have already featured the amazing culinary offering of Legacy, and the chef behind the cooking, Ahmed Abdalla. The Cookery School at The Grand has also been in the news in recent months thanks to some of the innovative things they are staging there, but now there is someone who supersedes it all, particularly as he will be overseeing the whole food operation at The Grand.

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The Grand at York

With an impressive culinary background that has spanned over two decades, Kevin Bonello brings a wealth of foodie experience to York – and it all started in the kitchen of his Maltese home as a child. “From a young age, I was always behind my granny and mother in the kitchen,” he grins. “We all loved to entertain and cook for friends and family. I always remember the Sunday lunches that they would cook up. To start, we would often prepare an array of meze that would include soft and peppered sheep cheese Bigilla (a Maltese bean dip) and marinated courgette with lemon, mint and olive oil. The main dish would then vary from fried rabbit with onion, garlic & peas or a roasted pork leg with roasted potatoes with fennel seeds & onion gravy. In the summertime, we would often host a BBQ night in the garden and cook up Maltese sausages and nice lamb kebabs or even a whole baked fish cooked with fresh herbs & tomatoes. Delicious!”

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Despite this grounding, it wasn’t a given that food was the way forward for the young Kevin Bonello. “As a child, I wanted to be a pilot or an engineer,” he says, “but at 16 I did a summer job in a kitchen and loved it. It was my father who found me the summer job at the Cosmana Navarrra Restaurant. The aim was just for me to earn some money, but within a couple of weeks, I realised that this is what I want to do as a living and it was a career that I wanted to pursue. I did half a day in pilot training and decided it wasn’t me, so I went back to the kitchen. I never looked back.”

So began quite a career in the heat of the kitchen, which was initially shaped in the UK when he trained at London’s Berkeley Hotel. “At that time, it was something very new for a teen Maltese chef to go and work outside the country – but I was very excited about the opportunity,” he says about making that leap. “I have very good memories of the time I was training there. I worked alongside great chefs who were constantly working towards perfection in every dish. This training ultimately gave me the opportunity to work in highly acclaimed restaurants such as The Aubergine with Gordon Ramsey, at the Park Lane Hotel with Marco Pierre White and Pied a Terre with Tom Aikens.”


For the last two decades, Kevin has been the culinary director at Xara Collection, a leading hospitality brand. During his tenure, Kevin has played a pivotal role in elevating the culinary offerings at the Collection’s host of venues. “It has to be gaining a Michelin star in 2020, when the first Michelin Guide came to Malta, whilst I was working at the de Mondion Restaurant in Mdina,” he says on the highlight of his time there. “It was a very proud moment for me both on a professional and personal level. The second highlight was being able to see students that I mentored and taught during my time moving up to sous chef or head chef positions in the various restaurants that I used to run.”

Now, though, York has come calling. “The Grand is an iconic hotel destination, which is a must-visit in my eyes,” he says on the job’s attraction. “The hotel combines contemporary luxury and timeless elegance to truly create a five-star experience. The food offering is also outstanding across the board from Legacy, which offers a modern British and Yorkshire-inspired tasting menu in an iconic setting, to The Rise, which offers modern, simple cuisine and utilises the highest quality, local produce.


“Then there’s The Cookery School, which is like a Masterchef kitchen!” he laughs. “The place is magical, and Marc Williams, The Cookery School director, is doing a great job with the classes being offered – from how to make the perfect Beef Wellington to BBQ masterclasses. I love to see guests getting immersed in their cooking and forgetting about everything else when they are in the class.”

Kevin’s role will be overseeing the entire food operation at The Grand, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be sharing some of his culinary prowess too. “For me, the important things are always simplicity and freshness,” he says on his cooking style. “I like to use local ingredients as keeping mileage low is very important to both me and The Grand in general. I also always try and use the whole product to reduce waste, but also maximise flavour. When developing my dishes, I often take influence from my travels. In particular, I love to use Mediterranean produce.”

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Is there one dish that sums up what he is all about as a chef? “It has to be suckling pig paired with fermented vegetables, pickled date and mustard seed-tomato jus and salt baked celeriac. The idea is to use the whole pig from head to toe and accompany it with fermented vegetables to cut through the fattiness of the suckling pig. The mustard jus elevates the whole dish and gives more complexity to the plate.

“Since I started my role, we have already made a few changes to the menu to reflect my cooking style,” he adds. “As much as possible, we would like to continue to focus on using seasonal produce from regional producers. For example, strawberries from Annabel’s Strawberry Farm are delicious so, when they are in season, we always want to utilise them in our dishes. We will also continue to adapt the menu at least three to four times a year, to respect the change of season.”

Kevin is just the latest addition to what is a burgeoning food scene in York – but there’s no doubt we are all expecting big things from his stint at The Grand, York.


Scotch that

One Kevin Bonello recipe you can cook at home

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Hen Scotch Egg

Serves: 5


5 large hen eggs – boiled for 4 minutes

250g sausage meat – skin removed

50g green apple – peeled and diced

50g onion – finely chopped

1 sprig of fresh thyme

A few sage leaves – finely chopped

½ tsp parsley – finely chopped

50g flour

50g beaten eggs

100g panco


Freshly milled pepper


  1. Sweat the onion in olive oil with sage and thyme till soft.
  2. Add the apple and cook for a further 5 minutes till soft.
  3. Season with salt, pepper and chopped parsley and set aside to cool down.
  4. When cooled down, mix with the sausage meat. 
  5. Gently peel the cooked eggs, making sure not to break them.
  6. Wrap the cooked eggs in the sausage meat mixture evenly.
  7. Flour, egg and panco the eggs and cook till golden brown in a 180C hot oven.
  8. Season with salt & serve. Enjoy!

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