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Giorgos Roubakis & Nikos Kourougkiavouris

When was it you first realized you wanted to be a CHEF and what did you do to make that dream come true?
G-From a very young age all us kids had to help at home since both parents worked, and a lot of the cooking fell on my shoulders. During my 2-year stint at a private Chef’s school, I really became enamored with this as a career. I have been cooking professionally for 10 years and I still feel that I will never get tired of it. It is never boring and never the same.
N-Early on my parents and me both realized that a strict academic education post high-school would not be such a good idea and since it is Crete, tourism seemed like the right move. To be honest, I was not really sure about it until I began to cook professionally, but from then on I knew it was what I was meant to do.

What was your first position in the restaurant/hotel business?
G- As a student/trainee at Elounda Beach Hotel, I had a chance to try my hand in all positions and stations in the kitchen.
N- At Nana Beach Hotel in Hersonissos I did breakfasts and often lunches, broiling meats for the guests.

Tell us a favorite childhood food memory?
G-We had a weekend home in Gouves, where the family gathered        and I can         recall that there was always so much food, much of it cooked in the        wood oven.
N- My Mother came over to Crete from Athens as a young wife and mother     and so it was together that we both learned to cook, much of it from my     Grandmother.

Is Pantopoleion your first venture together as owners?
G & N- We have been friends for 10 years and prior to starting Pantopoleion   we worked together for 3 years at Pagopeion, but yes this is our first restaurant      together, along with our 3rd partner Grigoris.

What world cuisines influenced you the most? 
G- The Mediterranean Diet has been the biggest influence on my style of cooking. Without destroying what is good about traditions, I like to marry these tastes with new designs and trends. I read a lot and absorb information from all different cultures.
N- Mediterranean cuisine has been around a long time, yet it still has the ability to sustain development and enhancement. A lot of the world is jealous of the raw ingredients that are found only here on Crete, so we must treasure this and use them well.

What do you cook at home for a family celebration?
G- Everything! But seriously, I cook for 2 days only to have it eaten in about an hour. I do like to make some surprising changes to traditional dishes and see everyone’s reactions.
N- We have always had a wood oven no matter where we lived, so I try to make most of the meals in there—so that absolutely everything is melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Is there anything you won’t eat?
G- Lentils
N- Chickpeas
(Editor’s note: so much for the myth that all Cretans love their legumes!)

 

 What’s your secret indulgence?
G- Really depends on the moment and circumstances. Sometimes I can crave   something as simple as even a great Club Sandwich.
N-A hot comforting soup of any kind.

 

 What restaurant brings back the most memories for you?
G- A simple fish tavern in Southern Crete on top of a huge rock. There were very few things on the menu but the “honest food” and the view of the endless beach stayed with me.
N-There is a restaurant on the island of Milos where the table is right on the edge of the sea and the people are happy and very friendly.

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