mEET THE CHEF
Taste My Passion!
Vardanes Babayan, the Chef of Simple Greece, shares the stories of his childhood, his thoughts on Greek cuisine and some cooking tips.
I started cooking in early childhood, together with my Mom and Granny. I liked to eat and, that's why at certain point, I started helping out in the kitchen.
I was great at frying meat! Since then I've never parted with cooking. There is a Greek saying: "The culinary art was created by God and spices were created by Devil". And this is true!

We usually cooked together - Mom, Granny and I. I still remember the taste of home dishes, mingled with the smell of the stove and the fire. It's difficult to recreate this now, but this is what I aspire to in my profession.

Vegetable ragout made of eggplants, onion, red pepper, cheese and spices was my first masterpiece. The greatest secret of the Greek cuisine is the two-stage cooking process. We cook on the fire or the heat first and then bake it in the oven afterwards. The dishes are amazing!

In my profession, I study cuisines of different countries and national traditions. I like Russian dishes too. I can cook "ukha"("уха"), double and triple (the one which is simmered on the stove in accordance to old Russian tradition). I like merchant-style buckwheat ("по-купечески" = "po-kupecheski") too.

Once, at a picnic we baked lamb in the ground. It had been marinading for several hours before it was cooked. The fire was made right on top of the meat and then we cooked it this way it for several hours. The taste was magnificent, even though it was cooked in a field, in such a simple manner.
'Kokoretsi' - lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal, including sweetbreads, hearts, lungs, or kidneys, and typically grilled.
The basis of the Greek cuisine is: cooking on the charcoal grill, fire and the stove. However, Greek cuisine would not exist without products such as succulent, seasonal vegetables, fresh seafood, extra virgin olive oil and shiny, plump olives.

Another exceptional dish is "kokoretsi" (lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal and typically grilled). It's commonly served at Easter and an absolute Greek favourite!

Spices are essential for Greek cuisine. Rosemary goes well with lamb and Oregano goes in everything.

Being in a hurry is not a Greek thing either, especially if we are talking about food. Sometimes day turns into night, as our lunch turns into dinner. Food should be enjoyed thoroughly and slowly!

"Gyro" for a Greek person is like chocolate or milk for a kid. You cannot live in Greece without gyro. Everyone knows where the best gyro is cooked. But almost no one cooks it at home really.

I am never tired of cooking. I make fried eggs with tomatoes and peppers for breakfast. Everything I cook at home is done according to the same approach - first stove and afterwards the oven. My wife also cooks, but I do it better, of course (laughs).
Everyone has his own role in cooking at home. I cook the main dish, and my wife makes the salads and dolma, which I love a lot. I think I cook around 3-4 hours a day. And I feel more comfortable cooking alone, so I do not let anyone into the kitchen sometimes.

I do not like cooking cold starters, cold cuts, etc.
I love main dishes: grilling the meat, fish and seafood, especially goatfish.

A handy tip: When frying fish or seafood, right after you get it off the stove, add a good portion of lemon juice. But do it straightway, do not waste a minute, it keeps the meat soft and juicy.

When you love what you do, it brings so much energy and inspiration into your work. People can taste my passion!
Meet the Chef at
Simple Greece
Address: Pyatnitskaya, 10