Interview: Yannis Keryannis | Photo: Antonis Vourexakis
Thalassamou was a big bet for me
From “Salmatanis” restaurant in Kifissia to Alyki of Paros. The renowned chef, a graduate of the Ecole de Gastronomie Ritz Escoffier de Paris, “built dreams on the sand” and won the bet at once!
What distinguishes a chef from his colleagues?
His passion for the job, the frequent menu adaptation to the products of each season and place and his insistence on the best ingredients.
What characterizes an excellent chef?
Each cook has his own way of expression in the dishes. He impresses his experiences on his recipes. He knows the taste of a new dish even before he creates it. He is never at rest, he experiments all the time.
What do you consider as superfluous and what as necessary for a summer restaurant by the beach like thalassamou?
A summer restaurant must combine everything, meat and sea food, but it must have a balanced menu to match the summer mood. Not a stilted cuisine. I prefer what is chic and casual and this applies to our restaurant. Simplicity. Anyway, the sea by itself abolishes all kinds of affectation.
You have created in southwestern Paros a new gastronomic destination. How difficult was it, how challenging and how rewarding?
It was a big bet, but we won it from our first year, so it was immediately rewarding. On the other hand, it was a first-rate challenge. The location was ideal for setting up thalassamou as we had imagined it. On the sea, spacious, a bit isolated to offer calmness even in the heart of August. Surely it is difficult to be outside the centre, but this is exactly what our clients seek.
What is the Mediterranean and what the Cycladic cuisine for you? Do you marry the recipes or do you “respect the limits”?
The basis is the Greek cuisine and consequently the Cycladic and the Mediterranean ones. Well, I grew up in the family restaurant in Kifissia. Anyway, in cooking there are no limits. You can “marry” all the cuisines of the world and that’s what I do. The Greek cuisine develops and changes according to my experiences. For example, this winter found me in the Basque country, at the Michelin 3-star restaurants Arzak and Akellare. Next year we shall see…
What should we expect at thalassamou this year? Give us the mark of your new menu.
This year along with the Greek dishes, there are some specialties as regards the ingredients and the techniques: Shrimps marinated in fennel, coriander and mint with beet mojo, courgettes and avocado or roasted pork in a spicy jam of Florina peppers. Home-made ice-creams and pastries like mascarpone and fruit cream horns or lemon pie, using exclusively local ingredients.