Peppe's Malvern | Meet The Chef
Sicilian chef Peppe Pantaleo has spent all his adult life to date perfecting culinary skills to produce fabulous food from around Italy, but especially from his own homeland. Now his passion for producing gastronomic gorgeousness has paid off for the people of Worcestershire and their visitors as he serves up one Mediterranean treat after another in his own restaurant, Peppe’s of Malvern.
There has been an Italian restaurant at this spot for 18 years and until last year Peppe worked in it as one of the business partners, providing the public – especially theatregoers – with the classic dishes of one of the world’s great cuisines.
Now the restaurant menus reflect the keynotes of all the finest cooking, using the best quality, freshest ingredients possible, cooking them to order and presenting them so the eyes thrill the stomach in advance of eating.
The food that diners enjoy at Peppe’s of Malvern is not just the stuff of a chef’s textbook technicality. It is an ongoing work of evolution generated through decades of hands on work, education and passion.
Peppe joined a college about catering and hotel management straight from school in Sciacca, Sicily, then travelled all over Italy gaining experience in hotels, restaurants and pizzeria. He did military service in the Navy as head chef aboard ship for 12 months before moving to London in 1998. There, he worked in two 5 Star luxury hotels, The Landmark in Marylebone and the Four Seasons at Canary Wharf.
He came to Worcestershire in 2001 and with two childhood friends opened two restaurants, Benedictos Malvern and later Benedictos Worcester. Last year he left the Benedictos partnership and opened Peppe’s of Malvern with his wife, Becky, who helps him run it. They have two daughters, Sophia (7) and Giovanna (9), whose taste buds are already being well educated in a healthy, tasty diet featuring Peppe’s own yardstick values of freshness, wide variety and sensible portions.
The restaurant has evolved with soul toward Peppe’s own discerning recipes and preferences, turning meals into masterpieces with a Sicilian leaning towards more fish and shellfish, less oil and butter, whatever produce is in season and the subtle use of herbs. Everything is delivered daily for ultimate freshness, by reputable local independent suppliers.
“We have lots of Sicilian recipe dishes like aubergine with Parmesan cheese and homemade pasta,” says Peppe. “Our desserts are also prepared in house. In the Tiramisu we use the slightly sweeter sheep’s cheese imported from Sicily instead of Marscapone. Our lemon tart is my own recipe as I like it sweet rather than sharp and with a crunchy base.”
Crucially, Peppe and his team can also cater for any dietary requirements that the customers have.
“We accommodate everybody,” he says. “If somebody is vegan or they want gluten free or they are allergic we can make the dish without the unwanted ingredients. If they are watching their weight we can make it light but still with the great taste. We want to make people happy! That is always the aim, with every meal and every dish.”