Chef Manuel Xuereb’s kitchen is a labour of love. He talks to Veronica Stivala about the practicality of an island and sushi bar and the importance of having enough storage space.

Manuel enjoys being close to his guests while getting the food ready.Manuel enjoys being close to his guests while getting the food ready.

A chef’s kitchen is always special, and Manuel Xuereb’s cooking haven is no different. The black and brown colour scheme from the real walnut veneer, complemented by some antique pieces, give this kitchen a grand and stylish look without compromising on comfort and functionality.

Manuel first fell in love with the Ernestomeda kitchen from Italy as he drove past a new showroom that was opening soon some four years ago. “I walked into the showroom as the new kitchens were being installed and saw these kitchen cupboards,” he remembers. “It was love at first sight.” He was so excited that he ordered the kitchen straight away.

Manuel designed this modern chic kitchen, as he did the rest of his home. His passion for all things domestic is evident and he openly admits the he “loves (his) kitchen”. “Putting your stamp on your home is so important,” he confides.

The black and walnut colour scheme blends beautifully with the antique pieces dotted around the rest of Manuel’s apartment. The kitchen consists of high gloss tall cupboards and real walnut veneer drawers. The black appears in a gorgeous texturised traffic stone worktop with black spacers between the drawers and the worktop.

The star of this kitchen, which doubles up as a dining room, is surely the large island with two jobs and a grill, and a large walnut sushi bar/breakfast table. This is an “amazing feature which makes entertaining so much fun”, says Manuel.

Manuel and his partner Steve Aquilina love entertaining and the layout allows for Manuel to prepare the food while socialising with friends as they sip wine and nibble on tasty hors d’oeuvres. “I can’t imagine having to cook on my own while my friends are having fun in another room. That would be so boring!” he says.

This kitchen boasts two ovens, a microwave, a cappuccino and espresso machine, a hidden fridge freezer and the all-important dishwasher.

Putting your stamp on your home is so important

Manuel and Steve actually chose the property because of the large kitchen/dining room as well as the wonderful living room and roof terrace upstairs. They use the kitchen “every day and all the time” and have even filmed some television adverts in this state-of-the-art kitchen. “I’m even cooking in my kitchen while I’m at work!” Manuel says with a smile.

Manuel is a chef pâtissière and cake decorator, so his favourite creations are naturally sweet ones. He likes traditional recipes, but also modern food with different flavours, textures and colours.

“I do love cooking citrus, berries and chocolate, so some of my favourite dishes include an individual lemon and white chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries and berry coulis, or rum and white chocolate cupcakes with caramelised bananas,” he says.

“His favourites are naturally the sweets”

Luckily, this kitchen doesn’t really need any special cleaning procedures, but does need to be taken care of. Glossy, lacquered kitchens are very reflective and every fingerprint will show up. The walnut veneer is a soft wood and can dent or scratch quite easily so care does have to be taken. The worktop was chosen purposely because it’s tough, doesn’t scratch and deals easily with Manuel’s cooking needs.

“Food is not just a necessity in life, but a luxury we share with our friends and loved ones. The kitchen is the heart of a home so make sure you give it the special attention it deserves!”

Manuel’s tips on creating a great kitchen


A beautiful, stylish kitchen will inspire you to use it. It needs to have that feel-good factor about it.


You need to have accessibility to cook without having to run from one part of the kitchen to another. Make sure you can access the most important things easily. I designed my kitchen around the island and cooking is so easy.


If you are going to use them, get them! If you drink a lot of wine, buy an under cabinet wine refrigerator. If you entertain enough, why not buy two ovens. Once your kitchen is installed, you cannot rearrange the appliances.


We don’t all have the kitchen of our dreams, so make the most of the space you have. An island looks great, is easy to work on, can be used with stools as a breakfast table and is also a great entertaining piece. Make sure you have enough cupboard space; you need to store food and other products that don’t need to be seen.


If your kitchen will be used for entertaining, it must be warm, cosy and welcoming. Think about your needs for entertaining and how often you entertain.


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