Regulars, people from everywhere, especially at the Grand Café d’Athènes, in the 10th arrondissement, a fairly cosmopolitan area. We welcome a lot of people from fashion, TV, cinema. It’s a very friendly clientele. We also have quite a few Greeks, customers who have followed us since the beginning with the opening of Filakia and who come to rediscover a little of the cuisine of the country even if we offer a slightly revisited cuisine, because neither my partner, Benjamin Rousselet , nor I are Greek. We offer our own version of Greek cuisine. It’s revisited in our sauce!
You have been trained by the greatest chefs, tell us about your background.
I was very lucky. I did the Paul Bocuse Institute. It was at this time that Cyril Lignac made his first show “Oui Chef !” and from there it all started, there was a real craze, trend for cooking. I didn’t know anyone in that area. I discovered everything. I did my first internship at Ledoyen with Christian le Squer, then I went to London for the opening of Joël Robuchon‘s restaurant, I did a wonderful internship with Pascal Barbot and then, I worked at Lancaster with Michael Troisgros. Great experiences, all different but formative. Finally, I had a job as chef at Cyril Lignac, in his bistros and there, I really loved this style where we do more cooking, less assembly.
Have you always been in love with the country ?
I didn’t know Greece at all before meeting my husband, the chef Philip Chronopoulos. I went there for the first time with him, when I was 20. I discovered Athens and I was really seduced by this universe. Greece is surprising, the cuisine is very different, it has a lot of character. My mother-in-law cooks really well and it has influenced my own cooking a lot. She made me discover dishes that really changed my career like the Spanakopita, sort of pie stuffed with herbs and spinach leaves, with feta and black pepper, it’s really my favorite dish. It literally changed my life ! In addition, she cooks with a lot of pepper, which we are not used to, the dishes take on an almost mystical dimension, it is so powerful. And then, the taste of herbs, those you can’t find anywhere else, wild herbs, all that really surprised me and I’ve never forgotten it. Greece has changed my way of cooking.
How do you feel about Greece ?
I feel good in this country. I love the way of life there. There is a fairly chic art of living that I like. The Greeks have a sense of taste, of style.
And about Athens ?
It’s a city that I like a lot, it’s surprising, a lot of people can have a fairly negative image of the capital whereas me, on the contrary, when I went there, I found it to be a surprisingly green city, with its orange trees. I loved the open-air cinemas, in the middle of the pine trees… We feel good in Athens and since the crisis, I find that the new generation is full of spirit, that it energizes, modernizes the capital. There is a real new wave. Things are happening there. And then, the Greeks have a character, like their cuisine. I really like their positivity.
Greek cuisine is a mix of smells, flavors, colors. Which dish concentrates all these characteristics according to you ?
The Briam, the Yemistas too. And then there are all the salads like the Dakos that I love with its grated tomatoes, the Paximadi rusk, the capers, the olives, with a little mint, red onions, it’s really exceptional. Greek cuisine is really a cuisine that we prepare in advance, that takes time, which cooks for a long time. The Greeks really have this intention to please when they receive, it’s pretty awesome.
And going to live in Greece, did the idea cross your mind ?
We all think about living elsewhere sometime and so do I, but it’s not at all in the plans. If I one day I leave Paris, I think I would definitely go to an island. I love Corfu, I have a passion for Paxos. I’m watching the Maestro on Netflix, it makes me so happy, we go to this island almost every year. We are cut off from the world there, it’s very small, I would love to have a house there. Last summer we were in Spetses, friends of my husband have a house on the island. It’s a bit in the same spirit, it’s very small, ultra-preserved, quite chic.
Filakia, le Petit Café d’Athènes, 9 Rue Mandar, Paris 2e. filakia.fr