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Karoumpas Miltos - President of Greece Chef Association

  • Mr. Karoumbas, first we would like to thank you for honouring us with this interview.miltos

It is a great honour for me to speak about my Cypriot colleagues, who have a global culinary range and it was with great pleasure that I received your proposition.

  • You are the President of the Chefs Club of Greece. What does this mean for you?

Value itself does not have titles. Value is the effort to support the occupation you are following, to constantly upgrade the services for the benefit of your customers and tourists. My participation in gourmet cuisine is my personal choice and certainly the cost in lack of time to spend with my family, is very important. However, when the result comes up to expectations, you feel a moral satisfaction.

It is a fact that, in recent years, the profession of chef and confectionery chef has been upgraded greatly and the existence of the Chefs Club has played an important role in this upgrading.

  • Tell us, in a few words, about the Club’s major highlights.

The Chefs Club of Greece operates on creative lines with substance, and not on self-assertion and a short-lived presentation. We are gradually building the professional conscience of young college graduates and for this very reason we created Junior Members.

We train and certify our members on new culinary trends and techniques. We have created the Greek National Centre of Gastronomy with modern facilities which can accommodate, in super luxury, more than 180 people for meetings, seminars and presentations. The centre includes a fully equipped kitchen, certified by iso 22000 and HACCP, where the National Olympic team is preparing for competitions abroad.

In general the Club activities include:

  1. Participation in culinary events in Greece and abroad, aimed at supporting, through the Greek Tourism Organisation, our national tourism product.
  2. Participation in the committees of the Ministry of Education for the schools of tourism.
  3. Participation in the Ministry of Finance for the promotion of products through recipe writing.
  4. Cooperation with Chambers of Commerce and Industry by educating restaurateurs and food suppliers.
  5. Cooperation with many food companies by developing new recipes and new products.
  6. Certification of products with the Club’s logo.
  7. Participation in TV and radio advertisements.
  8. Organisation of conferences and gastronomic meetings.

THE CLUB’S SOCIAL FACE.

  1. The Club provides, on a daily basis, 80 portions of food to fellow- beings in need.
  2. The Club participates in the activities of the Hadjikyriakio charitable establishment and the SOS children’s village.
  • What are the aspirations and goals of the Greek Olympic Cooking Team for the next Olympics?

Our successful participation at the last cooking Olympics in Germany obliges us to raise the bar and fight for something better. The team is training now and our coach, Costas Vasiliou, has chosen the category and the topic for the competition. Of course, my personal view on the issue of the Olympics, is not how many medals one gets. For me the team’s dignified and notable presence counts, which shows our country’s gastronomic standards. At the last Olympics where, for the first time, the Greek delegation consisted of 25 people, showed the potential of the Greek team and the comments we received were very positive.

  • What are your impressions about the standards of cooking and gastronomy, in general, in Greece?

Currently the level of gastronomy in Greece is quite high. Certainly it is has not reached the standard of the countries in Central Europe. Not so much cooking standards and taste, where Greek cuisine is the best from all over the world, but at the level of services. Great is the responsibility of the Greek State, which, if it does not raise gastronomy to University level, any improvements would only rely on private initiatives of Clubs and the Chefs Federation.

  • What do the words kitchen, jasmine, thyme, salt and Coummandaria mean for you?

Kitchen for me is my creative space where I can express my emotions through my creations.

Jasmine. A smell from the past, now rarely found.

Thyme. A miracle herb that enhances many dishes and calls to mind the Mediterranean.

What to say about salt? Can anyone live without this ingredient? Life without salt is life without love.

Coummandaria. The wine of good company that reminds me of my many Cypriot brothers, my friends and the good times I have spent professionally with them, as well as my service in Stavrovouni as a commando.

  • Is it easy for you to make an apology?

It’s natural for somebody who works continuously to make mistakes. By accepting that, you improve. Of course, I apologise for many of the mistakes that I recognise that I have made. The apology indicates a balanced and secure character.

  • If you were asked to cook for the last time in your career, what would you prepare for us?

Kakavia (Greek fish soup) with a variety of fish from Founi Ikarias, the island I came from and a place that calms and relaxes me, both physically and mentally.

  • Are there any unfulfilled goals you would like to achieve in the future?

The challenges to make dreams a reality are many. The biggest goal I have now is that the qualifications of all Greek chefs should be recognised and in 2016 the WACS World Conference should take place in Greece according to the file we have submitted.

  • How has the economic crisis influenced the service standard in your profession and what do you think will happen in years to come?

Unfortunately, the economic crisis has influenced our profession as well. Especially in seasonal hotels the service level is deteriorating and robust professional chefs and others are required to preserve quality values. We all hope that at some point the economy tap will open to bring us back to the old standards.

  • What would you advise a young person who chooses to wear the uniform of a chef for the rest of his life?

The firm advice I give to a young man who chooses the profession of chef is to aim high, train constantly, love what he is doing and have impeccable behaviour towards his subordinates whatever the position he may one day reach.

 

 


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