- First of all tell us a little about yourself, what you do and the places you have worked?
Well, I started off in this career when I was seventeen years old. I have previous experience in many a la carte restaurants, Greek, European and Mediterranean cuisine. The most of my twenty five years’ experience have been obtained in the hotel industry. I have been training by the best Hotel bands, such as Marriott, Intercontinental, Hyatt and Holiday in.
With a large range of experience in setting up a la carte restaurants and preparing from small fine dining private dinners to large five star banqueting concepts, technically, I believe that I’m able to prepare and present everything.
I enjoy following up on modern cooking ways and new culinary trends. I’m very experienced in techniques like sous vide, cooking under pressure with gastrovac, creating textures with pacojet & thermomix and to provide presentations with dry ice and liquid hydrogen. But beyond any trend, my main focus when I design anew menu, is to provide my customers with outstanding visual and tasteful results according to HACCP hygienic guidelines and a price rage that consists value for money. For more details visit my page www.papaparaskevas.eu
- What are the newest dishes you offer at the Hilton? And which are your favorite?
From the first day I started with Hilton Corniche, the direction was clear: we want and we will become the best hotel in Egypt. I started work hard for this, I changed all the menus with newer contemporary dishes selecting the finest local materials with ninety percent of suppliers being local and we receive goods every single day, even on bank holidays. The fresh fish that you will choose from our display for your lunch, has been hand picked out by myself or the Sous Chef that exact morning, from Central Alexandria fish market.
My favorite two new dishes that someone could try out at the Hilton Corniche, is firstly the “seared sea bream fillet set on wild greens ragout and lemon caper sauce”, where the texture of the fish skin is crunchy but inside is juicy and you can feel the taste the sea.
Secondly, the “fresh Alexandrian shrimp tartare with fresh seafood soup”, is an outstanding dish, presented live in front of the guest.
- What is your opinion on food shows ? And is there one that you enjoy following?
Before Internet era, television was the most popular information media, where the cooking shows where simple and understandable.
It all began in the eighties where ladies of the era like Martha Steward and Julia Child presented homemade recipes in morning shows to inspire and help the average American housewife.
From then on, things escalated with high speed and here we are today watching on the television networks on every country, ten to twenty different cooking shows, competitions, culinary trips and reality shows. Now the terminology of cooking became difficult and fuzzy, almost scientific.
Therefor the culinary adventure has expanded from the exclusive use of housewives only and has spread to the male population worldwide. Even becoming a hobby for many people that find it therapeutic preparing a meal for their family and friends. The avail for the television business is enormous of these shows, because there is opportunity for promoting a large range of products.
Personally I do not follow or have a favorite television show because I don’t turn to the television on my spare time. But there are a many remarkable Chef ‘s that present amazing techniques and rare products where sometimes, even the professionals, enjoy to watch.
- What is your favorite dish and how can we prepare it for Ramadan?
My favorite ingredients to work with, are fish and seafood. Especially those from Alexandria Bay. Mediterranean sea, provides a higher consistency in Iodine and sea salts, and this impacts to the quality of fish and seafood.
For example if you taste Mediterranean prawns and Atlantic, you will find that Mediterranean ones, have better taste and usually become tastier with less marinade ingredients.
So to answer your question, I would pick fresh Alexandrian prawns with tagliatelle pasta, ghee butter, garlic, tahini, lemon, fresh coriander and lots of cherry tomatoes for Ramadan.
In your line of work what is the most difficult situation that has happened to you?
This profession is one of the most challenging professions. It is the determination of the word difficult. If you simply ask yourself: “which job is the hardest ever”? Your mind is likely to come up with jobs such as heavy lifting, coal miners, builders, heavy duty cleaners etc.
Well the kitchen job contains a large range of difficult tasks, of all the above heavy duty jobs. For example, a hot kitchen commis has many heavy tasks to overcome on a daily basis, working in high temperatures, with high humidity, constantly in danger of burning or injuring himself. It is a stressful workplace, where you work mostly under pressure. Plus, there are no bank holidays or days off on weekend as a normal employee.
Our profession “ticks” all the boxes of a difficult carrier. So to answer your question, so far in my career, nothing scary happened (Hamdule)!
Generally this profession is not suitable for the everyday person that wishes a normal simple life. Either you love it and devote your life to it, or you better change profession.
What do you expect from Egypt in the World Cup? And what do you advice the players of the Egyptian team to eat in order to give them enough energy before every match?
I wish all the best for Egypt to become the world football champion. All the top football teams in the world are competing in this event and that makes it very difficult.
But nothing is impossible. I strongly believe in the achievements of team work.
If the Egyptian team believes that, and work hard together, then it’s a done deal!
If I had the honor to prepare their meals, I would prefer to treat them with lots of fruits and vegetables, dry dates for energy, chicken and beef fatless, for their protein intake and mash potato or rice without extra butter or spices, so they keep strong and energetic on a light stomach.
I wish them the best of luck.
Give us a peak of how to prepare a meal for Arabic guests
The best way to prepare a meal for Arabic quests is to take the finest ingredients, local grown grains, herbs and vegetables, fresh crushed and cooked spices, and to choose familiar tastes to awaken their senses and remind them of their childhood. Starting with a refreshing example of fresh cut tabbouleh mixed with chopped octopus and shrimps and a fresh citrus dressing. Following, a good example of a main course is a fresh fish fillet marinated with harissa, seared in a pan from the skin side to become crispy and served with lentil risotto Mujaddara style where you can add the classic onions, plus sumac or saffron or even fresh coriander. A great companion for these two courses could be a fresh squeezed lemonade and mint, and there you have a refreshing lunch suggestion for a perfect summer’s day.
What are your ambitions? What are your future plans?
My main ambition is to grow up with Hilton. Hilton Brand has an excellent program to elevate its team members, to train, support and sculpting them into advanced professionals. Such professionals provide excellent service. That service creates loyal guests.
This is the key that keeps Hilton ahead in competition.
Keep using one of my strong points of creating productive teams without conflict and negative attitudes, I would strive to succeed as an area executive chef of Hilton. Then I’ll work to assist other colleagues to get improved through Hilton Standards and finally to create a perfect hospitality experience for our guests.
A future plan is to create a “Green” fine dining a la carte restaurant where you can find only local organic products, fish only from sustainable spices, meat from small local farms where the animals will grow under special free range nutrition, the cheese will be made specially from this well treated animals and all dishes will be done by Ancient or traditional recipes