Meeting Mr Eric Magro, Head Chef at Henry J. Bean’s


Meeting Mr Eric Magro, Head Chef at Henry J. Bean’s (HJB’s) was undoubtedly a pleasure. His warm, relaxed and casual attitude proved a soothing background to this chat with Insider Plus.  

It was no effort at all to get the ball rolling, with Mr Magro recollecting his earliest days of work.  ‘I joined Corinthia in the late 1997 as a part timer. I was only 16 years old at the time and was still studying at the Institute of Tourism Studies ( ITS). I clearly recall Mr Stefan Hogan, the Executive Head Chef, showing immediate interest in my potential and very soon requested me to become a full-time student with Corinthia as part of the school program.’  The knife was new for his hand so he started from scratch especially in the kitchen since his previous jobs was as a barista in restaurants ‘I remained as a full time student for 2 years and in the end of 1999 just before the millennium I signed a full-time contract with Corinthia as a Commis Chef.’

His face betrayed the excitement he felt so many years ago. That was an offer he could not refuse. ‘I was eager to learn a lot of things so it was an easy and wise choice. I don’t regret anything; I grew up in my career and matured as a man. Corinthia has nurtured me and I owe so much to the Company’

After completing the Food and Beverage Diploma course, Mr Magro completed  a couple of courses during his employment with Corinthia, which always encourages staff to enhance their studies. ‘I must say the kitchen was not the only course I took; the bar was still a subject that interested me.’

Mr Magro is a determinate man and enjoys faith in himself. ‘I was always looking forward to my next position and that kept me growing year by year for 10 years from Commis to Chef Tournant; that’s 5 promotions until 2010. Then there was an opportunity for me to move to Henry J. Bean’s and although it was not an easy decision I became the Head Chef over here.’

Head Chef: Could he walk us through the main responsibilities of that position? ‘My responsibilities include serving the best and freshest food for every client, keeping the hygiene standard to the highest-level possible, ordering food and ensuring that as much as possible everything features on the menu at all times, maintaining the equipment in the best working condition, solving staff-related issues by keeping everyone content and satisfied as much as possible. But the final aim is to see and ensure that our clients are satisfied with their experience in our restaurant. That is our ultimate aim which directs and intensifies our efforts. Customer is king.’

What would he say to attract someonewho has not yet visited HJB’s? ‘As the Head Chef of HJB’s I would always recommend the good tasty food that we serve over here. The atmosphere is also great, especially when there is a good sports event. Now, let’s face it… how can you resist coming in for a couple of beers and refrain from eating when you smell the delicious aroma coming out of the kitchen?’

Those words made our mouth water. It is said that the smokehouse ribs at Henry J. Bean’s is one of the most popular items on the classic American menu. Why? ‘Those ribs are a dream. We smoke the ribs after rubbing them with spices, and then we let them cook for at least four hours in a special smoker. The secret is the slow cooking and our secret BBQ sauce recipe that makes them so uniquely tasteful. I believe that when you have a good product you should leave it as it is, and our ribs are still made the same way since we first opened the doors at Henry J. Bean’s.’

So how would he describe Henry J. Bean’s? ‘ It’s an American grill and bar with a retro English pub look. It’s is a great place to catch up with friends, with a delicious selection of food and well-made cocktails, It’s also a great location for sport fans; sporting events are shown live on big screens. Oh…I cannot leave out the terrace, which is a very popular feature.’ 

How does one get there? Any parking problem? ‘You  can get there very easily either from Ix-Xatt ta’ San Gorg (in front of Marina Beach Resort) or from Triq il-Professur Walter Ganado, which is easier because of traffic issues. Parking is not a problem at all; We offer  three hours free parking at Corinthia St George’s while we take care of your cravings in our Restaurant.

We have by chance very recently interviewed Ms Diana Camilar, who, we discovered, is Mr Magro’s partner and both have a wonderful family of two super daughters: Hailey (5yrs) and Chloe (2yrs). And two adorable cats! ‘Our kids are our life’s treasures. I cannot deny they are a handful but they have given a unique dimension to our life. Since Diana and I both have demanding full-time jobs, I thank God for my lovely parents who help us out by taking care of the girls during work time, so we both can continue our careers. It’s a challenge every day to manage everything and schedule all the events, but as I have already said, we’re thankful and blessed.’

So  when he arrives home, is he still Mr Chef? Mr Magro could not keep back a wide smile. ‘It’s a good question. The answer is definitely yes, I’m sort of expected to cook, but there’s no hard and fast rule. I would say at home we both have to share responsibilities since both of us work full-time, so at times Diana cooks too.’ He stopped and pursed his lips, adding: ‘But let’s put it this way: if we’re both off, there’s no question about it , I’m cooking!’

So is there no blessed time for relaxation or hobbies? ‘No, I do have hobbies. I love cycling, swimming and watching football. But, I must be honest… relaxing at home with our two very demanding treasures is very close to impossible.’

From our guest’s words, we could more or less surmise that he was a giver. Correct? ‘I think of myself as a kind, caring and helpful person. I love helping others; that’s the way I was brought up. I invariably feel a deep satisfaction after performing a good deed.’

We noticed Mr Magro kept arranging some items in orderly fashion. Was tidiness, and orderliness a personal trait?  He smiled from the corner of his mouth and nodded. ‘I love cleanliness and I can say that my mood can easily change when there is mess around me. Maybe, sometimes I can be a bit annoying cause I like things in place and done my own way.’

 Insider Plus insisted on making Mr Magro tell us what was his favourite dish. He started by telling us he likes trying different traditional foods from different countries, but we pressed further. We were surprised: ‘A good Italian pizza’. Then he changed to a prankish face. ‘There is something else I just cannot resist. It’s not a dish. Chocolate! It’s my small daily sin.’

We parted company. He looked at the time, opened his eyes wide and and nodded slightly. It was late and he eagerly wanted to see his darling treasures at home.