Giannis Zoumis

Interview: Vassilis Bonios | Photo: Stavros Niflis

A restaurant is not just about cooking and serving food. It requires good energy

The port of Naoussa has had many battles in its history. Have you ever had to battle here, to gain your reputation and your customers?
It is a great battle, one that has lasted for 26 years, with both victories and defeats. The competition here is great and many locals don’t accept foreigners. I come from Paros originally but I didn’t grow up here. It was difficult.

Many famous people eat at your restaurant. How are they as clients? Are they demanding?
Yes, they are. You can divide them into two categories. There are the ones who want to show off, something that is far from my beliefs. They sense it and they don’t come here. There are famous people who are different, of course, more philosophical. And they are all here!

What is the formula for your success? What instructions do you give to your staff?
If someone does not work hard, he won’t be successful. On the other hand, if the owner of the restaurant can also cook, things are different. My advice to the staff is to trust those with experience. The instructions I give are very detailed.

Introduce us to the chef of Sigi Ikthios. What does he propose for this year?
There are two chefs, Osama and myself. We have learnt to cook through experience, without studies. This year we propose yellowfin tuna in tartar sauce. We also propose fresh fish and lobster, our best dishes.

Τhe port of Naoussa is considered to be the most important tourist spot in Paros. What are your predictions for this year?
This season will be bigger and better, as we can already see. But the tourists that have come so far this year were not here because we were their first choice. Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey have had significant problems. If they like it though they will come again. This is our bet for this year.

What problems does a businessperson in Greece face today?
We are suffocating… It is clear that we don’t work for ourselves anymore. We have to be patient.

Your work is on the seafront. How many times do you go swimming in the summer?
Well, you know the answer—we don’t go swimming. We only go to the sea with our children at the beginning and end of the season, to spend some time with them.

What would you advise the new mayor of Paros?
It so happens that he is a friend. I trust him and I don’t think he needs any advice from me. When you are a mayor, you make decisions, you don’t ask for advice. You just put the island on a track. If he does this, it can only be for good.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, a restaurant is not just about cooking and serving food. It requires good energy. For the chef to have high standards he has to be experienced in life and to be balanced. For instance, many cooks are alcoholic. I only drink water…
Running a restaurant requires another way of life, in order to survive and to be good at your job. When a restaurant has 200-300 guests at the same time, there is a pressure that not everyone can handle. If you are trained mentally you will be able to lead with a clear mind. This is what the chef does, sometimes without even touching anything. Still, the food must be first class.

Summer 2014