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Giorgos Michalakis, 7 THALASSES

When was it you first realized you wanted to be a CHEF?

It was in 1982 in Santorini when I was looking for a job. I took a position as a Chef’s helper with a very progressive Chef who was already dabbling with nouvelle Greek cuisine. He became my mentor. After that I worked in many places in Athens till 1990. I even had a short stint on Mega TV’s cooking program. In 1996-97 I went to a Professional Chef School, and for 2 years I was Chef at Avli in Rethymno.

What is your earliest food memory?

As a child growing up in the south of Crete, my Mother cooked real Cretan dishes with lots of fish, wild greens and vegetables. The fresh and natural tastes stayed with me always. It was her cooking that first instilled in me the fundamental understanding of natural, unadulterated tastes, with nothing artificial added.

When did you have your own establishment and where was it?

I opened my first restaurant in 1992. It was an Italian Restaurant in Rethymno called Palazzo. After that I owned several other establishments before starting 7 Thalasses just under 2 years ago. I had always wanted a restaurant in a park, so when the Municipality approached me about this opportunity, I knew I would do it.

What world cuisines interested you the most and influenced you the most?

I like several cuisines, such as Chinese and Italian and I have worked in a French restaurant as well, but I still contend that Cretan cuisine is by far my favourite from both an eating point of view, as well as working with it.

As a Greek Chef, do you feel that Greek Cuisine has been undervalued and overlooked in world cuisines?

Considering that a country’s cuisine is an important part of its culture, Greek cooking in the past has not played much of a role. This was the fault of Greek Chefs, who instead of trying to progress and advance their own cuisine, would mix other cuisines into Greek to change it. This has changed however in the past 5-6 years and is now on the right path. Now both Greek Chefs and the government (through various programs) are showing the world the breadth and depth of Greek ingredients and its cuisine.

 What is your all-time favorite meal?

It is difficult to choose ONE, but I do prefer to mix salty and sweet tastes together. One of my favourite dishes is milk-fed Veal with prosciutto and dates.

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