Masterchef S02 ep5 : Christoforos Peskias, Restaurant 48, [Athens]
Interview with Christoforos Peskias
A disciple of Charlie Trotter, Peskias deconstructs classic Greek Cuisine and imbues it with a modern gastronomic patina. The dining room is also an architectural masterpiece.
Peskias: I’m Kostas Peskias this where I am 48 the restaurant in Athens.
Peskias: In reality this is a business, it’s my heart and soul.
Peskias: I never cooked before I was 24 and then I got hooked and then when I was 28 I said …
this … good invention.
Peskias: I got a job as a cook in … which is up … in Athens you know, there was three of us, three
cooks I mean, nothing special really, and after a while I became in charge. I started doing my own
things there, little by little. I spent almost a year here, then I went to the States because I
originally, I went to school in the States, business school, and I wasn’t meant to be a cook, I
became a cook because I wanted to.
Peskias: Then I worked in a couple of restaurants in the States in Chicago
Peskias: Charlie Trotter and Carlos, that’s in the suburbs in Chicago, and I came back here, I
worked in three places until 2002, Rock ‘n Roll in B… owned by friends of mine.
Here in Athens?
Peskias: Here in Athens … is just like 200 metres down the road.
Peskias: 48 was originally opened by Ted Marjoles, a guy called Lou Shoot, his … salad things
what he loves, he appreciates it, he had the idea and he is the one to be congratulated for this. And
the idea was to build the restaurant, a modern Greek restaurant.
Peskias: I came from the beginning but I didn’t have much to say about the look since it was about
the cooking from the beginning but the idea was to you know to a place where atmosphere was you
know was as good as the food.
Peskias: I think a great chef has to have an understanding I mean if you don’t have an
understanding you cannot become a chef, even though when you get good technicians but if you
don’t know you know what piece of meat you to use, where to use, how to use, how to combine,
you are not a chef, so I don’t think it’s just your ability to I mean they say Ducas is like this you
know he has an ability to get good managers and he spreads his business around but I think you
have to be you know you have to be a good cook.
Peskias: I remember I went from a small restaurant in the north suburbs of Ath… was at the time
considered by some either the best or one of the best restaurants in the States in 1995. Charlie
didn’t have much of a hands on experience, but he was in the kitchen all the time, he was cooking.
He wasn’t using his hands, he was using other people’s hands.
Peskias: You cannot hide in the kitchen because you have to you get to stay there you have to do
things you know you have to, if you do a decent job you might not be number one but you can be
you know in the top whatever 50, then you are okay.
Peskias: We work with the classics. Stuffed tomatoes, your grandma’s stuffed tomatoes with rice
and we do it, it looks like a sushi, tomato sushi we call it. Where the, it is broken down you know.
You’ve deconstructed it.
Peskias: It’s deconstructed so you mix the rice, the Japanese rice with tomato sauce and then some
herbs and stuff and we form it into a square and give a slice of over dried tomato on top and it’s the
essence of a stuffed tomato but in a different shape and different form.
Peskias: Aubergine, … star again or we do you know the Greek ratatouille it’s … briana, that’s the
Greek, zucchini, eggplants, produce and that’s baked in the oven correct and we broke that
together we baked everything separately we put it together and it’s like a breean but little different
… powders …
Peskias: The first couple of years a lot of people looked at us suspiciously, now it’s highly
regarded. We are like four years in operation now, it only makes sense now, I mean now if I can
take some distance away from what has happened, it only makes sense then. You know we made
mistakes, we was too new, now it’s highly regarded and now we okay you know we trade and have
a balance what is too modern, what is too …
Peskias: When you do Greek cuisine in Melbourne you have the advantage of you can look at it
from another point of view and you can do whatever you like but it is a … ingredients many times
you don’t have the right ingredients. But generally it’s different.
Peskias: Technically we want to highlight the product, whatever that is, I mean you know we know
that I mean every chef you ask every decent chef you ask, he will tell you that, I mean product the
quality of the product is the first and last and you highlight that. Of course. And then technically
you know you always have that in mind, number one, and then when you start to do specific things
like Greek cuisine, then style is important, style I mean when you do a Greek tomato sauce, you
have to use a tonne of olive oil, if you want to do it you know Greek style. Then you have to find
ways if you want to make it modern to get rid of the olive oil later. So style wise and then you have
to think of techniques you know because the other thing we pay attention to here is first of all it
has to be modern you know it’s a
Has to be healthy modern food.
Peskias: I … I don’t know I mean you can please can have a table of experts here and discuss about
what’s healthy for a few days and have no conclusion.
Peskias: We are revisiting, I’m not doing what my grandmother used to do, but I want people when
they have their food to remind them of what their grandmother used to do.
So there’s a bit of nostalgia with it.
Peskias: There has to be I think.
A connection, a resonance.
Peskias: Because we’re doing specific things, we’re doing like … we’re working with the classics
so nostalgia, you know memories important.
Peskias: Indigenous, if you say indigenous, you can say mastica … it’s great, olive oil … I mean
you find olive oil but also in Italy in Spain, in Syria, Lebanon, if you are not used to doing things
very strange or it’s too much but … character so you know the cooking with olive oil is important.
Peskias: In the summer time 70% of cooking is tomato based, cooking … tomato sauce, salads.
Without the tomato you don’t have a lot because you have say eggplant braised with tomato sauce
in … you have … with potato, zucchini, eggplant yah, and tomatoes, but whether you don’t have a
dish you have bamyes which is ochre, tomato juice and olive oil, you have two ingredients you
have tomato and olive and when you take out these, you have got a cuisine actually, especially in
the summer time. You take out olive oil you don’t have Greek cuisine at all.
Peskias: Actually in the north the cuisine is a little different, in the mountain they don’t use so
much olive oil they use a little more butter, but also what they use for example in the summer time
tomatoes everywhere, haut that’s in the winter, it’s a cuisine based, is a peasant, it’s a poor man’s
cuisine, haut and bitters in the winter time you take out that, no because you have … you have …
you have … which is you know around this time of year, maybe it’s in the spring too … rice and
meat and of course we do a lot of … chickpeas and beans and black eyed beans, … and things like
that of course. And in the summer time you have the fresca fasona …
Peskias: When I was actually it was in Baltaz the restaurant I worked before there was a guy that
came he used, and he came back three or four times, I mean he came in and said the food was shit
and then two weeks afterwards he was there again and the food is shit, I’m like, why does he keep
coming back, he doesn’t like the food.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christoforos Peskias, Restaurant 48, [Athens]