You found yourself in Paris during the 70’s for studies. How did your involvement with cooking come about?
I arrived in Paris in October 1977 with the aim to study since I have always enjoyed life in France. Thus I found myself working in Greek restaurants to make a living. Up to that point I had never been involved in cooking. My mother was always cooking with passion, showing her love that way.
How was your first restaurant in Paris received?
My brother Evagoras and I, we opened the first restaurant in 1981, which was open 7 days a week. We alternated shifts to keep it in operation while we attended our schools. I cooked traditional dishes, using top quality raw materials. It was not easy at first, but we slowly began to attract regulars. Many of our old customers still continue to come to our restaurants until today.
How open were the French during the 70’s and 80’s to sample other cuisines?
French gastronomy is very important to the French as it is linked to their history and they are proud of that. However they are willing to try new cuisines. At that time most Greek restaurants did not adequately represent our cuisine. French customers were seeking flavors from their summer holidays, thus we recommended authentic flavors.
Was the Michelin star a target of yours?
Since 1993, when we opened the gourmet restaurant “Mavrommatis” in Paris, I was aiming to work on Greek cuisine using French culinary techniques. I wanted to channel the love and passion for our profession. The Michelin star came as a result of inexhaustible patience and passion for Greek cuisine.
What specifically makes Cypriot cuisine stand out?
Special aromas, spices, its unique charcuterie... The fact that when we sit at the table, we set all the dishes in the middle and we share them.
Which flavor do you seek with nostalgia? Your personal comfort food…
Flavors release “all the joys and sorrows of the world”, as Proust says. I search for the authentic flavors of vegetables and fruits from the vegetable gardens that we had in Ayios Ioannis, the handmade charcuterie that my father used to make. For me, couscous with tomato sauce and kolokasi with celery are comfort food: full and delicious.