How have things changed for OPSO since lockdown?
Lockdown made us think of things from a different perspective and adapt to the new reality quickly. At the start of lockdown, we introduced OPSO At Home and also launched a ghost kitchen for our sister restaurant PittaBun, doing takeaway and collection. Both these offerings were extremely well received and we continue to run these in parallel with OPSO’s restaurant operation. For the re-opening, we had to re-configure the seating of the restaurant, train the staff and introduce measures to comply with government guidelines. It is important to remember that restaurants are a place where people go to relax and enjoy themselves, so it was vital for us to create a pleasant and relaxing environment, but also reassure our guests of their safety. At OPSO, we take the safety of our guests and team very seriously.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career and why?
It requires great patience and persistence, but in the end quality prevails.
We have followed this advice throughout the years and it has become a part of our philosophy.
Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?
There are many representatives of our industry that I have the utmost respect for. One of them is Manhattan-based restaurateur, Danny Meyer. His Union Square Hospitality Group includes some of New York’s best and most diverse restaurants, from fine dining to roadside burger joints.
It is similar to the diversity of our Modern Greek Food Group (MGFG), which includes our fine-dining 2** Funky Gourmet restaurant in Athens, well-known for its avant-garde style, OPSO in Marylebone that serves modern Greek comfort food and PittaBun located in Carnaby, Marylebone and Canary Wharf, that reflects our Greek street food concept.
What ingredient can you not live without and why?
Definitely olive oil. A good quality extra virgin olive oil is absolutely necessary for nutritious and light cooking, which is why we work closely with our producer in Crete to provide us with the purest extra virgin olive oil after each harvest for all our restaurants.
What item can you not travel without?
My laptop. Emails, documents, Excels, new menus and, of course, movies are all in there, so I always have it with me, be it travelling for work, or on holiday. Also, when travelling I always have some recommendations of places to visit with me.
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
London has some truly unique restaurants, so it’s hard to choose only one.
For counter dining I like The Barbary in Covent Garden and Sabor in Piccadilly. When I’m craving fish I visit Milos restaurant, which has a great variety of quality goods. Brat is also a great option and so is Sushi Tetsu.
What do you like the most about your favourite London restaurants?
Friendly and knowledgeable staff, that are there to ensure we have a good time. Of course, the consistency of the food is what keeps me coming back.
What do you like to do on a day off?
Days off are a great opportunity to visit restaurants across London. The dining scene in this city is growing day by day, so there are always new things to see and food to try. It’s hard to keep up and visit them all, but I do my best!
On my days off, I visit our restaurants as a guest, as it is crucial to experience the service and food from the guests’ perspective. Whether it’s brunch at OPSO, for homemade granola and green scrambled eggs or lunch at PittaBun for my favourite Sunday roast lamb bun, it’s never a chore.
Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?
Coffee, and over the past couple of years I have made it my hobby to find the ultimate cup of the stuff. I love the diversity and complexity each good coffee bean has to offer and how the roasting can affect the profile of coffee. That is why I personally took on the task of finding the best coffee for our offering at OPSO, where our famous iced Freddo Coffees are a big hit.
If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
Hands down, it would be Auguste Escoffier, the father of gastronomy. It would be amazing to dine with him and discuss how gastronomy has evolved over the years.