A Taste of Sun: How Chef Asterios Koustoudis Brings Mediterranean Elegance to the Plate in Athens
“I prefer recipes that are easy to perform, following the right technique and cooking steps,” the chef explains.
At Hotel Grande Bretagne, Chef Koustoudis works to offer an exquisite dining experience at GB Roof Garden Restaurant that equals the property’s unique, old-world architecture and elegance.
The chef’s main aspiration is for his customers to always leave the restaurant with the best impressions — a task made easier thanks to unforgettable views of the Acropolis, Syntagma Square and the Parliament, Lycabettus Hill and the original Olympic Stadium.
“The experience of dining while watching the Acropolis and Athens is truly unique, and we want the food we serve to be equally remarkable so our clientele will want to talk about their experience once they are back in their countries,” says Chef Koustoudis.
Serving Mediterranean cuisine at its best, GB Roof Garden Restaurant’s menu changes throughout the year to include seasonal, local products and offer the freshest quality ingredients to its diners.
Visitors love these local products and want to learn more about them.
The breakfast table is full of Greek PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products such as xynomyzithra, a whey cheese made from Cretan sheep and goat milk; staka, a thick butter from Sitia in Crete; rusks, a type of hard bread, from Kythira; graviera cheese from Amfilochia; and kasseri cheese from Thessaloniki.
“Visitors love these local products and want to learn more about them, giving us the opportunity to promote even more Greek products while at the same time upgrading the Greek gastronomy’s profile,” Chef Koustoudis says.
In particular, Chef Koustoudis likes to cook with vegetables and citrus fruits, which he says elevate Greek recipes. Dishes on his menus such as fish carpaccio with citrus fruits and mastiha oil or the lobster orzo pasta with tomato and basil are among the restaurant’s highlights.
Finding inspiration in Athens and beyond
Of course, an emphasis on Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is the basis for many of the world’s major cooking trends: Olive oil and several seasonal Mediterranean products such as fruits and vegetables have found a place in many people’s diets and on restaurant menus. Still, the food that’s local to Greece is special in its own way.
“What is unique about Greece is the freshness of our products,” says Chef Koustoudis. “We might be a small country, but we have several top-quality products, distinct for every region, such as cheese from the islands or olives from the Peloponnese and Crete.”
Chef Koustoudis finds it remarkable that Mediterranean-style cuisine — and Greek recipes, in particular — is reliably outstanding and healthy.
“In recent years, the quality of the offerings in Greece has been greatly improved, and we can now have direct access to excellent products,” says Chef Koustoudis.
“For example, we have worked with small producers of cheese, an excellent chestnut honey produced in [the] Peloponnese mountains and an excellent butter from Halkidiki.”
While Mediterranean cuisine lies at the heart of his menus, Chef Koustoudis still keeps a finger on the pulse of international food trends. He also believes that travel plays a quintessential role for chefs.
“I believe it is vital to [experience] different cultures and philosophies, and in the end, what is important is to understand why every chef has decided to cook a specific recipe and serve it in a distinctive way; what a chef is trying to evoke and why,” says Chef Koustoudis.
This is what Greece is all about: enjoying every moment ...
“I always try to adapt any idea I see or taste from other colleagues according to my own philosophy … Inspiration can be found everywhere, but it is essential to always remember your goal, to keep only the elements you love and integrate them in your own philosophy,” he adds.
So, what would Chef Koustoudis’ ideal Greek gastronomic feast look like?
“Imagine a table, perhaps with a white tablecloth, laid with many raw Greek products, such as our tomatoes, olives and olive oil, cheese, handmade breads, pies, honey, products with which you can fill a table and really distinguish their authenticity and great taste,” Chef Koustoudis says. “Because this is what Greece is all about: enjoying every moment, either while eating or even as a visitor to Greece … in all its simplicity.”
For more Mediterranean culinary inspiration, check out the A Taste of Sun recipe collection, featuring some of our chefs’ favorite dishes.