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Nikos Kourinos, Kouzinerie

When was it you first realized you wanted to be a CHEF?
I started to cook very young- around 11-12 years of age. I would watch and help my Mother and Grandmother. This is when I became aware that being a chef is what I really wanted.

What is your earliest recollection that relates to food?
Food memories are many, but I remember that when I was left alone in the kitchen, I would try to create by adding something to the pot of food when no one was looking.

Why do you find food so appealing?
If the food is good, it can make you happy. If it is not, it destroys the mood. This is why I like food and respect it.

What was your first position in the restaurant/hotel business?
My first two practical experiences were in hotel restaurants; one a top notch hotel in Elounda and another in Heraklion. Ultimately however, I chose à la carte restaurants over hotel dining rooms.

When did you have your own establishment and where was it?
My first place was a Café-Pastry shop 6 years ago in the center of Heraklion. The sweets were made daily in an open kitchen.

What's your favorite restaurant in the world?
I don't recall its name, but it was in an unbelievable natural location by a river with huge trees, just outside of Beirut. The service was exceptional and it was excellent Lebanese cuisine.

What world cuisines influenced you the most? 
Greek cuisine is what I grew up with, but in general I prefer creative cuisine with quality ingredients because I believe that to be fundamental. I can't say that a specific world cuisine has influenced me over others.

As a Greek Chef, do you feel that Greek Cuisine has been undervalued and overlooked in world cuisines?
No I don't think it has. It's in a very good position provided we Greek Chefs support it as much as possible and maintain its' purity. Greek cuisine is endless and difficult.

Do you feel that Greeks are starting to appreciate their own wines more?          
Yes they are, albeit a bit late in the game. What's bad is their tendency to believe that good wines should be expensive and therefore, many good wines are not given a chance.

Who's the cook in your house?
Still my Mother --  whose cooking is always good even though it is missing something...

Any advice for aspiring cooks?
This profession requires many sacrifices and you absolutely must love it, otherwise you will eventually leave it for something else.

What would you have for your last dinner and who would you choose to eat it with?
Rabbit in wine sauce baked in a clay pot with mountain herbs. I won' say with whom... because it might make others jealous.

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