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Argiro Varda, Elia & Diosmos

When was it you first realized you wanted to be a CHEF?
I never thought about cooking when I was very young, but later on my grandparents introduced me to the art of Cretan cooking. During that time, I kept an eye on my aunts and my mother when they cooked. They would make me knead the dough for bread, sweets and Cretan Kalitsounia. In this way, from within the familial experiences, cooking was transformed into a passion and a love and I wanted to offer special tastes to friends and customers. Later, I transformed my passion into profession with the various enterprises that I directed.
What is your earliest food memory?
When I was a small child and I remember my Grandmother pulling out the Myzithropita from the oven, covering it with her apron to calm it and finally handing out pieces to all of us.
What was your first position in the restaurant business?
My first job was at Elounda Bay, and I was afraid. Later however, I spread my wings like a new-born bird and learned everything I saw. I worked from 1978 till 1985, after which I opened my own restaurant.
When did you have your own establishment and where was it?
My first restaurant was in Istron. It was very small, but within 5 years it became very big. It was a family style restaurant, friendly and affordable for everyday folks. My next restaurant was in Mesa-Mouliana (near Sitia), which was famous for the food, the ambiance and service. The restaurant was in the forest amidst running waters and plane trees.
What world cuisines interested you the most and influenced you the most?
I like many cuisines, such as Mexican, Italian and Irish. My own cuisine however, is strictly Cretan gourmet and it cannot have shades of other cuisines. I always make it a point to taste the local specialties of every country.
As a Greek Chef, do you feel that Greek Cuisine has been undervalued and overlooked in world cuisines?
Indeed it has been elbowed out of the way. However, in the last few years, the concept of the Cretan Diet has gained ground internationally and has become recognized for its therapeutic abilities.
Any new ventures on the horizon?
Nothing can be ruled out. The future will tell...
What is your all-time favorite meal?
Really I don t know which to choose, but I do have a preference for Lamb with Stamnangathi.


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