I first met MARICA MICALLEF in November 2019. Her genuine smile, short-cropped hair and roundish face were still immediately recognisable. At that time, she worked at the Orange Grove Brasserie in Corinthia Palace. That venue is no more, and she now works at Josephine’s at Corinthia Palace. So she still loves making the best cup of coffee!

Marica must be shortened name, I wondered. ‘Yes, you’re right. It’s short for Maria Carmela.’ And how is she now faring at Josephine’s? ‘I love it. I still enjoy preparing a good cup of coffee and serving clients with a welcoming smile. This is my fourteenth year with Corinthia. Time flies… no, it speeds.’

Why did she join Corinthia? ‘I was fed up continuously at home, and one day a family friend who worked here encouraged me to join Corinthia. I could not work full-time, so I joined part-time. And I still do so to this day because I need to take care of home chores and my family.

‘I feel very much at home here, and when I feel down, the family atmosphere pushes my morale up.’

I remembered she had commented on getting tired standing all morning. Was she still feeling the same? She gave me her signature smile. ‘Age does not solve that problem. It increases it. When I return home, I only do light work.’

And who cooks at home? ‘My husband is a chef at another hotel. He also attends to the cooking at home. I have a 22-year-old daughter who still lives with us. She is studying to become a nurse and is eager to finish her studies and start attending to the sick. I pray to God she will get through.’ 

I remarked that her smile did not age. ‘Aha! But I cry too!’ she added. I commented that crying was an essential part of living. It means we still feel. Crying is essentially human, so I guess it makes us human. She added that she is more prone to cry now that she is three years older than we last met. Again I commented that getting older is the surest sign of life. When we stop growing old, it’s the end.

But did she have any intention of leaving her job? ‘Whenever I get the slightest temptation, I always rethink and feel sad about the possibility of missing the family bond at work. So I shall continue making the best coffee in town for some more time at Corinthia Palace.’

I then met OWEN MIFSUD who also works at Josephine’s at Corinthia Palace. He is only 20 and seems to be the youngest chap in the hotel. ‘They call me baby,’ he smiled.

I am still attending the ITS. This year was my work phase, and soon I shall resume my studies in Food and Beverages Management. I had initially decided to spend my work phase with Corinthia abroad, but COVID ruined all my plans

I have been chef de rang for four years already. This is my fourth year with Corinthia; three years part-time and one-year full-time. Meanwhile, as I said, I am studying and hope to continue working with Corinthia when I complete my course.’

Was this line his first choice? ‘Not really, I had started studying Design and Technology at Secondary School, but I did not feel any attraction for that subject. Then, when they introduced Hospitality as a topic, I immediately took to it. I found I belonged there. So I furthered my studies at ITS on Hospitality.

Was this his future? ‘Undoubtedly. This is my life. I have all intentions to also work with Corinthia abroad. We are blessed to have this golden opportunity.’

Owen is a warm, friendly character who is always ready to smile and share his passion for work. Easy to work with, he strongly feels the warmth of the Corinthia Family. ‘Those kind souls who helped me when I started, are still the good souls who follow my needs and offer a helping hand. It is difficult to leave behind such wonderful friends.’ 

Does he look back with a smile when remembering some particular experience? Owen chuckled. ‘I was starting work and could not handle a tray well. I lost balance a few times, and I can still see a couple of cocktails falling in slow motion on clients. My face turned redder than the cocktail, and I stammered some words of apology.’

How did the clients react? ‘There was one who made it a point to show me the disaster I had caused to her dress. But another was an angel. She calmed me down, saying it was not the end of the world and fully empathised with my inexperience. Every time she saw me, she would smile, and I responded with a red face.’

And what are the best words of praise he appreciates? ‘When a client congratulates me for the excellent coffee I served, I feel a giant.’

Any pet sport? ‘Definitely, football.

Owen being young, I asked him if there was some love in the air or whether Cupid had shot an arrow in his direction. His face blushed. I understood something was going on, and I did get a hint, but I preferred to keep silent on it.