Evripides Apostolides interview
He isn’t a professional chef. He isn’t a photographer. He isn’t a blogger. He is Evripides Apostolides, who has been till recently and for 17,5 years the general manager at Restaurant Spondi, the best restaurant in Greece and he is probably the best amateur chef, photographer and blogger in the country, at the moment. His aesthetic value and his love for Tinos and for stray animals- which brought in his life Rafa Apostolides- made us introduce him to you.
By Popi Kouzoupi
1. You come from Thessaloniki, you live in Athens, you were the general manager of a French cuisine restaurant and you love Tinos. Do you believe that taste has a nationality or there is a common denominator in every country and its cuisine?
I believe that when it comes to our taste there are no borders. Every country may have different materials, local herbs etc. but the common denominator is the quality raw material and the way we use it in order to feel the satisfaction when we taste the dish either we are in Spain or in Greece or anywhere in the world. Food has its own energy.
2. A dish from a Michelin star restaurant and a homemade dish. What are the common features and their differences?
There is a huge and principal difference. A Michelin star restaurant dish is the result of many people’s collaboration in a professional kitchen. Sometimes we taste dishes and we experience a completely new and unique kind of food. On the other hand, handmade dishes are full of memories and they are mostly the result of love.
3. As education reflects the quality of people the same way raw materials reflect the quality of a dish. How important do you think raw materials are?
You struck my cord. I believe that the right raw material plays a crucial role in the quality of a dish. For example I usually cook lunch every day and my decision of the recipe I’m going to use depends on the raw material I choose from the fishmonger’s or the butcher’s.
4. In the mass productive society, why should I prefer Mr Panagiotis’ shop where my mother used to buy meat from, instead of the mass merchandiser where I can find a huge variety of products?
You know, when it comes to food and the supply of raw materials, interpersonal relations are very important. For me Mr. Andreas is the fisherman I trust and he provides me with the best fish and of course Mr. Panagiotis is the butcher who teaches me for the parts of meat I didn’t know about. In a mass merchandising shop, on the other hand, there is no time to build this kind of relations.
5. You have broken ground in gastronomic photography with your shots. Do you believe in gastronomic tourism?
There was always a strong relationship between my trips and taste. I get to know better every place I visit through the local products and recipes. I remember the first time I visited Tinos. It was Easter and I learned how to make sweet cheeseburgers from my beloved Printezis family at their home in Koumaros.
6. Despite the fact that you are very busy we often see in your shots Rafa, a stray dog that came into your life the last few years. Would you like to tell me something about the new member of your family?
Rafa was found in Zakinthos tied to a tree by a hunter who wanted to get rid of the dog. From the first time we became best friends. He makes my life beautiful. He’s like a young child and I love him and take care of him all the time. And I feel his love all the time too.
7. Τον τελευταίο καιρό βλέπουμε μια στροφή στην ανάδειξη και της Τήνου μέσω της τοπικής της κουζίνας. Ποια είναι η γνώμη σας γι αυτό;
Η Τήνος είναι ένας γαστρονομικός και όχι μόνον θησαυρός. Όντως τον τελευταίο καιρό έχει αναδειχθεί η τοπική γαστρονομία της και είναι πολύ σημαντική κατάκτηση, όμως αυτό δημιουργεί πολλές υποχρεώσεις στην τοπική κοινωνία και ιδιαίτερα σε αυτούς που ασχολούνται με την γαστρονομία και γενικότερα την φιλοξενία, χρειάζεται εκπαίδευση επαγγελματισμός και διαρκής εξέλιξη για να είμαστε αντάξιοι της εμπιστοσύνης τους και να πάρουν ότι καλύτερο μπορούμε να τους προσφέρουμε.
8. If a visitor arrives at the port of Tinos what would you suggest him to visit and taste? Is there anything missing from the island?
Every visitor coming to Tinos feels a spiritual awakening, which is a dispersed sense all over the island. Then according to his preferences he can choose from a variety of activities and destinations. He can taste the local products like Tinos cheese, louza, sausages, caper, artichokes and many others. After that there are the museums, the holy Church of Panagia of Tinos, the beaches, the unique villages and the paths.
I visit the island every second month and I believe that there is not enough tourism all year round. I had a marvelous time in Tinos on October 28th, on Clean Monday and at Easter. If the touristic be weird is extended which is very possible is there are many activities in the island it will be very beneficial. But concerted effort is necessary.
9. Tinos- about forms a great effort, in the last 7 years, for Tinos to be promoted, expounding both known and unknown places of the island. What do you think of this attempt?
In the era of Internet, when printed journalism suffers a blow, I believe that efforts like that worth support and encouragement. It is very important for the visitor of the island to be able to find the information he needs and make his stay easier and more creative.
10. Lately the term “gourmet” overwhelmed our daily life. Do you believe that gastronomy may overshadow local cuisine?
As i said before, in modern times, information is transmitted in a split second. You are in Tinos and you watch people cooking in London. We should handle and deal with this fact very carefully, trying not to lose the gastronomic tradition of our country. However, in my opinion, “gourmet” may be the grilled freshly fished red mullet. It is not necessary for a “gourmet” dish to be complicated.
11. What is your opinion about the awards presented to so many people? Is every award a reason to be proud of? Which are the differences between the internal and the important ones?
All these awards, given to people related to catering operations, is a controversial issue. Any publisher advertiser site owner etc. invents a kind of awards for his personal interest. I think that we should find a valid system of a evaluation for these awards so that we don’t get confused. International awards of course are more reliable, but our country is not among their priorities for assessment.
12. And now the best part of our interview. There are some important new plans in your life. Would you like to share them with us?
Spondi, the restaurant I used to work for the past 18 years, changed the gastronomic map of Greece. It’s a leading school in its field and great professionals and top chefs came from its kitchens. I feel that I did my best, I gained more than enough knowledge and it’s high time we move forward separately. Hopefully, I plan to live permanently in Tinos. I love this island for its spirituality and I loved the local people too. This summer I will be in Mykonos through a new form of cooperation.