MY CLUB • October 2023
Athens-born chef Asimakis Chaniotis developed his passion for French cuisine (with a Greek twist) while working in some of Britain’s top hotels and restaurants. Executive chef of London’s longest-standing Michelin-starred establishment, Pied à Terre, he serves up life lessons and shares favourite dishes (it’s not hard to guess) and why he beelines for British Airways
To be a successful chef you need two things: discipline and hard work. It’s as simple as that. There are so many people around in this industry and it’s a very competitive environment, so these traits are needed to work your way up. To thrive and to make a success story, you must make an impact.
My Greek heritage has inspired me more than anything else in my life and career. The Mediterranean has amazing produce that I grew up harvesting at my cottage in Kefalonia from a very young age. My family always loved food and my mum’s food in particular was just so tasty. These memories involving traditional Greek food have been imprinted in my brain and I try to use them as a tool for my guests’ table.
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, make sure to include a trip to Athens to see the Parthenon – I absolutely love this temple. Go to Kefalonia, too, for the Melissani cave. In the former, book a table at wood-fired Pharaoh (my favourite restaurant in the city) and in the latter, it has to (of course) be my place, Terre Mouikis.
Downtime is especially important in this career, and I enjoy lots of motorcycle rides. I’m an adrenaline junkie, so I love driving fast cars in circuits, bungee jumping and anything that will push me to my limits.
Melissani Cave, Kefalonia
The best life advice I’ve been given is that it is only up to you when you will slow down. Make memories, love, dance, sing, have a go at a successful career. You only have one life, after all.
I feel the future of food will be people going back to suburban and cottage gardens and making food from their own vegetables or livestock. We urgently need to depopulate the cities and make a life where we came from. We should be living a life full of joy for our work, not one where we work to live.
I owe a lot to my mother, a hardworking single mum who gave us lots of love and affection and important tools for our lives, such as integrity, honour, respect, a sense of duty and discipline. She was working two jobs to be able to raise us and she has done everything in her power for us to become decent human beings. She gave us the ultimate present… life!
The best piece of advice I can give is that whatever you do, always remember where you came from and that you need to stay humble. Arrogance and ego are useless to yourself and everyone else, too.
How often do you fly with us? Most of my flights are with British Airways – I always tell clients and those working behind-the-scenes that this is my preference. I’m personally still a Blue Member, but I bet the guys booking my flights for me are much higher up!
Why do you fly with us? You have exceptional staff, a great variety of food and drink, lots of comfort on board (particularly when I’m flying in Club) and all that combined really makes my trips for work or leisure something that’s enjoyable rather than something I have to tolerate!
Asimakis’ favourite: Nobu
When flying I like to watch movies or kill time doing office work on my laptop.
Favourite hotel around the world? The W Barcelona – it has the best sea view.
Which world cuisine excites you the most? Japanese, by far. The simplicity and minimalism of Japanese cuisine along with the most high-quality ingredients is mind-blowing. Splash out at Nobu for the very best.
Favourite holiday destination? My cottage in Kefalonia. The food, the beaches, and the people make literally an unforgettable experience every time I go, and I normally visit there three or four times a year.
What country do you most enjoy eating in? It has to be Greece, which I dearly miss.
What food and drink do you order when flying? White wine!
Favourite dish to cook? Probably fresh pasta with sea urchin that I have collected and opened by the beach.
Which country do you dream of working in? I would have loved to work in the USA, probably California or New York.
Interview by Yasemen Kaner-White