Kefalonia - Greece
At the age of 15, my parents sent me from my home in Kefalonia to work on large shipping vessels in Athens as a kitchen assistant. My family was very poor so as the eldest child I took on the responsibility.
I commenced work on a vessel that was docked in the port of Pireaus in Athens, I was met there by a stranger that gave me instructions to go to Athens Airport. Once I was at the airport I was sent on a plane to Chicago (USA)! In Chicago I was then told to go to New York where I would meet up with the same ship from Pireaus so I could start working in the kitchen.
At the age I was, it was all very strange and frightening, but I did my best at my work and sailed around the world visiting various ports and countries. During my time on the ship I began learning how to be more than just a kitchen assistant and after several years travelling the ship I arrived in Sydney. This is where I took one of the largest gambles of my life and told the captain that I would be leaving the ship. The captain was in absolute shock! He deliberated with me and explained that straight after Sydney the ship would be returning the Athens where I could be reunited with my family. I said no, and left the ship and started my new life on Australian soil.
In Sydney I found work at a Greek Restaurant in Marrickville. I was told that I could only wash plates and use the dish washer, I was never allowed to prepare food or touch any food – which was greatly disappointing! I remember that the Moussaka they were serving was so poor that they would receive complaints from customers. So, one day I made Moussaka and replaced it in the restaurant without anyone seeing me and the customers were very happy with the dish that they wanted to know who made it. This is how I became noticed as someone that could definitely do more than just washing the dishes and the rest is history.
Have you always wanted to be a Chef ?
I have extensive experience with food since I was 15 years of age. Cooking and preparing food is in my blood, it is a strong passion of mine. I cook from the heart, not from text books or recipes. I come from an island in Greece that is very traditional. The food I prepare is traditional, fresh and originates from strong Greek Heritage roots.
Obsessive Compulsive About?
Nothing I prepare is processed, pre-cooked or previously prepared. I only present fresh food.
Your greatest culinary inspiration:
When the plate comes back to the kitchen completely empty and clean!
Slow cooked lamb.