Ο 32χρονος σεφ με τους τρεις Χρυσούς Σκούφους
Alexandros Tsiotinis is three times awarded a “Toques d’Or” in “Calypso” of “Elounda Peninsula”, has trained in some of the best restaurants in the world despite his young age, while the “Roots of Greece” dish won him the 1st place for the Mediterranean region in the international competition S. Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year 2015, claiming the world title.
Born on July 16, 1986, he grew up in Patissia, and from a very young age, he had a special relationship with food, which started from the Greek customary, Sunday table and the cooking of his grandmother, which helped to cook and lay the table since he was a child. At the age of sixteen, he had a life dream to open up his own business, “I didn’t want to be an employee, I wanted to do my own business,” he says in an interview with lifo. “And I was stuck with the idea that the most sensible thing was that if I had a business, it should be a restaurant.”
He started his culinary studies in 2002 and became a member of the Palmier Academy, with Yannis Baxevanis, who then cooked for the restaurant Chitra, and in the afternoons he helped him out pro bono because he wanted to gain knowledge and experience. The fact that his teacher had just returned from France and the fact that a friend of his was planning to go as well, made him decide to follow the same path, even though his knowledge in French was next to zero.
In Paris, he did two practices, one next to Alain Passard (3 Michelin stars) and the other next to Michel Bras (3 Michelin stars), and as soon as he finished his studies, he began to work as an assistant to Hélène Darroze (2 Michelin stars at the time). “The conditions were very difficult, the hours were inexhaustible, and the fatigue was huge. In two years, I lost 60 pounds. I left for Paris 130 pounds and I returned 72. The cook’s job is difficult and requires sacrifices, but I always thought in my life that if you do not invest in you, you will never gain anything. If you do not sacrifice things, if you do not work pro bono. I don’t hide it that, in Paris, I was working from 7 am to 3 am and from 5 am to 12 am – we are talking about 16 and 17 hours straight and. That’s how life is in a restaurant. ”
When that co-operation was completed, at a time when, due to the tiredness of the heavy schedule, he even thought of quitting cooking, he found himself in Spondi next to Arnaud Bignon, a man who had nothing to do with the other French whom he had worked with, as he admits. “Bignion was a very good guy who loved the job very much – he was the first to come and the first to leave the shop – and finally all that made me re-create the interest and revived the spark I had for cooking.”
He was asked how he managed to reach out to all the people who seemed unapproachable because of their professional recognition and whether he was horrified by the idea of the three-Michelin-stars chefs, a question to which he replied that “If you do not aim for the best, do you advance? “. He even shared his experience of when he worked at Pascal Barbot’s L ‘Astrance, a 25-seat restaurant, with 3 Michelin stars, “a poetic place where all chefs want to work,” where he managed to win a place in a two-month practice because he sent his resume every month.
After spending time at Spondi as a chef de partie, there was an opportunity to go to the Éric Fréchon’s restaurant in Paris (Bistrol, 3 Michelin stars), where he was not just an assistant. After another year at the renowned restaurant, he collaborated with Vassilis Zacharakis, who wanted to be occupied with Greek cuisine.
The following winter, he worked in China on a cruise ship of a Greek shipowner cruising for prominent personalities of the Chinese political system and “I found myself cooking in the kitchen of a ship from a country with incredible poverty, indescribable. I was hugging the pots all day and whenever there was rough sea, I was in bed. It was an experience I would not want to relive. ”
The Executive Chef’s position followed at the Hotel Elounda Peninsula in Crete and the winters in Brussels, where he made the card and menu of a restaurant for two years. He also worked in the best restaurant in the world, Noma in Copenhagen, although he thinks “For me, it was the most money that I have thrown away in my life. He did not have the trainees at the place where he was cooking his dishes. We were locked somewhere, not to steal his secrets. The title “The best restaurant in the world” is binding.
Objectively, there must be awards because it is motivated. Also, there is no limitation on how many Michelin stars should be in each city, there may be for every good restaurant. Renee surely deserves the title, no question about that. The issue, the best in the world for who? Who determines it?”
After that, he wanted to stop changing base every winter and summer and to find a permanent kitchen to which he would entirely devote himself. “I felt the need to find a port that would be mine for me to serve my ideas just as I do.” So, he opened the CTC (a pun derived from the Greek noun “sitisi” which means nutrition), a small space with 30 seats and a clean, strict aesthetics (gray walls, white tablecloths, porcelain dishes) that serves creative Greek cuisine.
“My kitchen is a mix of the experiences I have gained after so many years,” he says. “Just because I am Greek and my influences are Greek, you will find trahanas in the menu as well, but you will also find a corn soup. And without being a goal in itself, I try to use Greek products.”
Furthermore, on every visit, CTC keeps notes of what customers ordered, so as they suggest something different the next time. The choice of dishes is limited but a lot of times it changes depending on the mood and ingredients the chef has.
He likes to compare cooking to painting. Being fond of colors, he parallels an empty dish with a white canvas which expects to be filled with genius. For him, the food looks like a trip and with his creations he aims to attract his “guests”, as he prefers to call his CTC customers, in a gastronomic journey where the aromas, textures and flavors alternate harmoniously and boldly. “My dream for CTC is to be the crossroads of different tastes and trends. To become the place where modern meets classic and the present it becomes one with the past and the future. ”