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Kostis Theodorakis, BARKO (Ag. Nikolaos)

When was it you first realized you wanted to be a CHEF? 
It was inevitable. I was always in the kitchen. Even as a student I was always cooking for other people. Then as fate would have it, my wife’s Mother had the 1st Mezedopolio in Agios Nikolaos and when she had enough, my brother and I took over the business
 
What is your earliest recollection that relates to food?
My Grandmother and Aunts in the village would make Xinohondros and my brother and I would help, but while the fresh pasta was drying and all were napping, we would steal some and eat it. I also remember cooking fresh tomatoes into a pulp then hanging it to dry and preserving for the winter. We would take the fresh tomato pulp and spread on fresh bread. These are tastes I can still taste today in my head.
 
Why do you find food so appealing?
It gives you an outlet for your creativity- you can experiment with it, and working with food always gives you something to do. It is never boring, never the same and it is extremely satisfying.
 
When did you have your own establishment and where was it?
It was the first BARKO in 1997 in Agios Nikolaos, which was a simple Mezedopolio.   
 
What Chefs were or are your inspiration?
I admire Jamie Oliver for his creativity and his immense knowledge of all world cuisines and for work he does with children and teenagers, trying to instill in them his own love of food.
 
As a Greek Chef, do you feel that Greek Cuisine has been overlooked and undervalued in world cuisines?
It was for sure. We didn’t realize what a jewel we had hidden in our pockets and we had to have someone take it out and put it in our hands. The advent of Cretan cuisine started as a trend about 4-5 years ago, about the time the studies showed the effects of Crete’s healthy diet.
 
Do you believe that the average tourist knows anything beyond Moussaka?
Due to a lack of reliable information, most tourists still only know the foods that the out-dated travel and tourist guides talk about- tzatziki, souvlaki and greek salad.
 
Any advice for aspiring cooks?
Try it and see if you like it. It is a creative and rewarding line of work, and you will never be out of work.
 
What would you have for your last dinner and who would you choose to eat it with?
Broad Beans (Koukia) with oil and lots of onions with dried sardines and enormous quantities of strong local red wine. I would choose my wife if at that point she is still alive.

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