Flash-grilled: Athanasios Kargatzidis

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Athanasios Kargatzidis Greek-born chef behind Mediterranean Grill by Assembly in Harrods on his first industry job and his cooking style

Related tags Athanasios Kargatzidis Assembly Mezze & Skewers Fine dining Harrods Chef

The Greek-born chef behind Mediterranean Grill by Assembly in Harrods, London, on his first industry job, his cooking style, and the single item of kitchen equipment he couldn't live without.

What was your first industry job?
It was at a local Italian pub/bar/restaurant in Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada), washing dishes for 300 people. I also hand rolled 1,500 buns per day. 

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
I love design, architecture and industrial design, so something along those lines.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Suits… (laughs) No, I need a sense of urgency always, so being 'complacent' is a no-go.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Not a single thing – but to this day they still ask to build their own dishes, asking for this with that and not this but this.

Sum up your cooking style in a single sentence
Fusion. I love taking ingredients from where a restaurant of mine is located, and using those local ingredients to cook my style.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Find your luck and take the opportunities. I always had this thought that if it‘s over your head, jump in head first!

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My hands. Or our Josper oven.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
Anything from my mum’s hands!

À la carte or tasting menu?
À la carte.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant?
Every year I have a few best meals, but the last one was with my family. We had chicken in a 100-year-old restaurant back home in Lisbon. It’s our regular weekly haunt, but everything is/was of the time and of the moment, and it was the reason restaurants were built to nourish to feed and offered more hospitality than I have ever encountered.

Favourite fast food joint?
Shake Shack.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Souvlaki.

MasterChef or Great British Menu?
MasterChef Australia​.

Most over-rated food?
Almost all ‘fine dining’.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Dogs

Who would your dream dinner party guests be?
All my past family; my grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles, as I want to know all about my family.

What’s your earliest food memory?
Wrapping myself in the blankets that were used to proof the ‘tsoureki’ for Easter – the smell of mastic butter takes me back.

Twitter or Instagram?
Instagram, but I now find all of it a bit off-putting

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
Back home to Kavalla, Greece, anytime of the year!

Tipple of choice?
A Shaky Pete at Hawksmoor.

Favourite food and drink pairing?
Basturma and tsipouro.

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