Sotiris KONTIZAS

Biography

Restaurant:

Sotiris KONTIZAS

Born 1983 in Athens from a Japanese mother and a Greek father, Sotiris’s palate was exposed to both worlds from the start. "We were eating yaki soba for lunch and Greek pastizio for dinner," he explains. His mother was a good cook, and when she moved to Athens from London, where she studied and met his father, she learned Greek cooking. Home is where the hearth is. In his case, two very different cultures lived in mutual appreciation of culinary delights.

"I was sitting next to my mother and watching her. I loved the smells that came out of the pots, the sound of the frying pans. I liked the food so much I was a bit plump before my father sent me to karate - which at some point was a matter of curiosity to know how it is. In fact, when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was saying a food taster, not knowing if such a job existed.”

After graduating from school, he studied Economics and Regional Development, and when he got his degree, he had to decide what to do. "I had three choices: to find a job with my degree, to take a master's degree, or to deal with what I loved most."

So, in 2005, he picked one of the three most famous restaurants in Athens at the time, “48,” by Christoforos Peskias, who had a similar background in economics, and asked to be put to work in the kitchen, without pay. In return, he was getting an excellent education, but he needed money, so he had to get a paying job and landed at a bank, at the counter. Until, after a year and a half, 48 called and offered him a permanent position. He quit his bank job on the spot.

For five years afterwards, he worked in the kitchens of well-known chefs in Copenhagen - Rasmus Kofoed (Geranium) and Torsten Vildgaard (Studio) - before joining The Ledbury, a gourmet establishment in London with two Michelin stars. Finally, teaming up with his friend Kostas Pissiotis, he returned to Athens to open Nolan, near Syndagma Square, where he pairs Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Greek influences to create a unique cuisine of his own. In 2016 he was named best new chef in Greece, and he serves on the jury of the Greek Masterchef Television show.

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