From the mentors who changed his life (we’ll give you a hint: he’s one of the best chefs in Greece) to a typical menu you might expect on board, Chef Ioannis explains why he offers one of the best culinary charters in Greece.
Tell us a little about your background?
I come from the hospitality sector and the catering industry. I’m very lucky that I was a member of the pre-opening team at Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens where I worked for a year. Before that, I was working at Costa Navarino Dunes as the Complex Executive Sous Chef. I was the executive chef for ten years at the Nasioutzik Museum, the sous chef at the Yacht Club of Greece, and the sous chef at the Neptune Hotels Resort & Spa.
What motivated you to become a chef and where did you train?
My love for cooking is my strongest motivation, which inspires me with the creativity and passion to create memorable dishes. My favourite part of the job is when I’m able to be creative in a way that creates memories for my guests and team members.
Who are your chef heroes – who are the people who have influenced your style of cooking?
Konstantinos Vasalos - one of the best Greek Chefs. I met him in 1997 at Grecotel Rhodes Imperial Hotel. I’ll never forget what he said to me: “From now on, I want you to forget everything you know about cooking and we are going to learn everything the right way.” From that moment everything changed for me. He is an excellent teacher and mentor, for both cooking and also life in general. I’m very fortunate to have met him. I am a big fan of some foreign chefs as well, including Gordon Ramsay, Massimo Bottura, Ottolenghi, Albert Adria & Alain Ducasse.
How did you come to work as a superyacht chef?
I’m a very driven, highly motivated person. After so many years working at big hotels, I found that I was spending much of my day in an office. It wasn’t what I wanted to do - I like to cook and create new dishes, and I enjoy a challenge. So moving into being a superyacht chef was just the thing I needed to feel creative and strong at my craft, again.
What is your favourite type of cuisine?
Mediterranean all the way!
What are your specialities and what’s your signature dish?
Green olive soup, bottarga mousse, “Lagana” crouton, Nivato cheese, squid spaghetti, star anise sauce, zucchini, fava bean spread, squid ink, sea urchin, and finger lime – to name a few!
How would you describe your culinary style?
My cooking style is Mediterranean with Middle Eastern spices and Japanese Marinades
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for menus?
From very high-quality local produce and dishes.
What’s the secret to cooking high-quality food on board compared to ashore?
You have to be very well prepared with the provisioning; it’s critical that you must have everything on board before departure.
Do you prefer to use local ingredients when on charter?
Absolutely, local ingredients from small suppliers.
How do you manage special dietary requirements - are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free now standard requests?
I manage these kinds of requests by being very well prepared with the provisioning, ensuring that I have everything that I need on board beforehand.
How do you cater for young children?
Simple, uncomplicated food, and lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.
What’s your dream menu – your personal favourite?
There is no dream menu for me, all of the dishes I create are like my babies. I love all of them for different reasons.
What do you most enjoy about working as a superyacht chef?
Every day is different from the last. I never know what to expect.
What have been some of the highlights and best moments while working on board O’Pari?
Compliments from guests when they loved the food; the moment service is complete and went smoothly. It’s a great feeling.
Sample Dinner Menu
'Like a Greek' Salad with tomatoes, compressed cucumber, feta cheese mousse, olive tapenade, pickled shallots, green peppers, oregano and extra virgin olive oil rocks.
Seared scallops with celeriac “spaghetti”, Cretan “apaki” cured pork, zucchini, black truffle, champagne and Oscietra caviar sauce.
Red sea bream fricassee with bottarga, green asparagus, Chinese cabbage, fresh chervil and lemon chives sauce.
Roasted veal tenderloin with 'Stamnagathi wild greens, beetroots, baby crushed potatoes, plum tomatoes, black garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
'The Hazelnut Truffle' with Piedmont hazelnut cream & praline, salty caramel sauce and milk chocolate ice cream.