by Cesare Zucca
Christos Athanasiadis, who co-owns, along with Dimitris Christoforidis, the Nice n Easy restaurant in Athens, Mikonos and Kifisia, named after the Nice n Easy song made famous by Frank Sinatra, Chef Athanasiadis passion and energy for serving fresh, organic, sustainable, locally-sourced food with a twist to innovation and traditional Greek cuisine.
Where do you find inspiration to create a dish?
I look at the nature around me. I observe at the seasons, I look at what grows out of the soil, the characteristics of a place, is there a sea, is there a mountain at the area? In general, I look at what nature has given me and take those natural and local resources and create something new.
What convinced you to become a chef?
My grandmother had a big impact on me and influenced much my decision. She passed me on her love for food and the idea of being authentic, all of which helped me find my talent as a chef from a young age.
How do you express your personality in the kitchen?
I have to say I’m strict but very tolerant to mistakes as I believe that we learn the most out of our mistakes. Most of all I try to inspire my fellow chefs to love the kitchen environment even more through the position of a leader and not a manager. Is there a food you love only if cooked by another? Ravioli with anthotyros cheese dipped in butter that my grandmother used to make.
What or Who inspires you? Why?
I get inspired by geometry, shapes, clean lines and colours. If I had to name someone I would say Thomas Keller because his dishes are very constructed, because of his creativity and the way he converts a food scene through his unique “plasticity” and last but now least I really like his personality.
Sinatra,, Marilyn, James Dean…Nice n Easy menu has often stars names. Why?
Because the creativity element that stands out within the nice n’ easy restaurants is authenticity. We believe that the old era of Hollywood is one of the most authentic ones in the history of arts. We’ve tried to find elements that each Hollywood star liked and combined those with our plates.
A food we will always find in your fridge and one that we will never find.
You will always find basil because I really love and use it frequently in many of my dishes. You will never find coriander as I’m allergic to it.
On your chef’s life, any curious episode?
300 pieces of wedding cake that were completely destroyed by the truck that was transporting them to the location and we had to make up for it within only one hour. We did it!
Open the drawer and tell us your dream.
To end up, after a long journey, to my beginnings; in a small restaurant by the sea in a beautiful island with only 5 tables. I want to serve people feet naked, go fishing in front of the restaurant and to live the everyday sun along with the authenticity of the location.
How relevant is the greekness in your dishes?
Hugely relevant. All of my dishes and all I create spring up from the greekness that had been developed since the day I was born and have intimately within me. Look at my recipe, featuring the unique fava from Lake Feneos. How so greek is that?
THE RECIPE: CALAMARI SAUTE’ WITH FAVA BEANS FROM LAKE FENEOS
Cooks in: 25 minutes. Serves: 2
400g fava beans
1 bay leaf
For the Calamari
Clean up the calamari, cut diagonally and sauté them.
For the fava beans
In a large cooking pan, boil 1 part fava beans with 1 part of water with cut vegetables added and skim occasionally. When they are tender, mix into a high-speed blender adding olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
Nice n Easy
Omirou 60, Athens