Chef Yiannis Kasidokostas and the Heart & S-OWL of Greek Cuisine
Chef Yiannis Kasidokostas has been cooking for 26 years in hutted and Michelin star restaurants. His love for good food and the interaction with his customers, it’s a passion that drives and keeps Chef Yiannis going every day.
Hospitality it is neither a business nor a job, it is a whole culture that Yiannis Kasidokostas grew up in and what he credits as making him a better person. It is our rich heritage he sees as our future, as well as the principle and foundation of ourselves.
Politismos Museum had the opportunity to speak with the critically acclaimed Greek chef who now calls Australia his home.
Q. What is your earliest and dearest food memory?
I was 4 years old and I had a hare stew with shallots in a rich and spiced with cinnamon and bay leaves, rich tomato sauce. We call it Stifado and that was the main reason I was interested to know more about food.
Also my grandfather and father owned a numerous businesses in the central fish market of Athens and that was also a big part of my childhood as I loved seafood since back then.
Q.When the financial crisis hit Greece, you left for Australia. How did you decide on Australia? What do you think your greatest challenge and greatest accomplishment have been during your initial time of transition were for you?
Australia is a country that has political and financial stability something that is very important for a nation to go ahead and develop a bright future.
The biggest challenge for me was that I had to carefully learn everything about a new lifestyle and culture in a new world for me. I have to understand the diners, how they eat and when they eat as here in Australia the dining style is completely different to the European and Mediterranean. Every day I am learning something new in my restaurant and in other businesses I am consulting or from clients of mine when I cook for them in private dinner events.
Q.You have a large following on Instagram, 43K followers. What makes a dish, a place or a moment Insta-worthy, in your opinion? Is there a photo that “got away”, one you wish you could have posted?
Instagram is a virtual playground of people expressing their interests and what make them exciting, pictures of people who like to impress or fascinate the others.
If you browse through those pictures and captions of those you will be able to understand all this excitement of people sharing their experience.
A dish is Insta-worthy when the person who takes the shot is craving to have it right now!
The only thing I would love to have in pictures is the faces of people having the first taste of a great dish.
Q.There’s been a movement to return to “traditional Greek cuisine”, before the recipe books of Tselementes, moussaka and such. What does “Greek cuisine” mean to you? How do you relay that feeling to those who may not know much about real Greek flavors, spirit, and soul?
Greek cuisine is a journey. A journey through hundreds of years. Different regions of Greece, the ancient times and their great lessons we had the honor to inherit, Byzantine empire and its great culinary treasures.
The real Greek cuisine has passion about great produce and ingredients, has soul and consideration of a great life filled with emotions of great flavors and food that has been cooked with love at a table of sharing even one piece of great bread and olives.
If there are people around the world who never get to know what real Greek cuisine is, then is our mission to introduce it to them. That can happen only if we are humble and we grew up in Motherland Greece where we ate these magnificent simple dishes with vegetables grown under the generous sun and seafood from the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea with the very salty water.
Only if we are humble can we showcase such a culture as Greek cuisine just because the only basic ingredient is love for good life and the surroundings.
Q.How long has S.Owl been open now? It’s had great reviews. The Sharing Menus are noted “eat like a Chef) – does this change on a regular basis? What may guests expect?
SOWL is been open for almost 8 months and its mission is to provide the pan Mediterranean and Greek culture along with dishes influenced from Turkey, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Southern France.
When a chef goes for dinner, he/she tries a lot of menu items to get every possible flavor of the menu. That is something that I am offering at SOWL. A lot of different flavor and texture profile dishes that changes with the season and availability of each ingredient.
Q.And while we’re talking about eating life a Chef, after a long and successful day in the kitchen, what’s your favorite plate to end the day?
I am obsessed with seafood. What is super fresh and stunning is in my menu.
I’d love a plate of fine cooked sardines and a glass of assyrtiko and I am the happiest man in the world!