An interview with Chef George Stylianoudakis of Kenshō Boutique Hotel
Kenshō Boutique Hotels and Villas, two extraordinary, yet understated luxury sites in Mykonos attract a specific type of traveller: one who prefers the finer things in life but without the fuss, the gilded elevators, stuffy butler service and pretentious lack of feeling. Kenshō guests choose this unique hotel brand for their ability to complement the natural surroundings and traditions of Mykonos, immersing guests in the island through architecture, food and spa rituals while offering a private slice of luxury within the hotels.
The gastronomic offerings at Kenshō Boutique Hotels and Villas is undoubtedly one of the finest introductions to Mediterranean life that guests will ever receive. The menu at the multi-awarded Kenshō Fine Dining Restaurant is crafted by Executive Chef George Stylianoudakis. George’s culinary style combines influences from Crete, Athens and international gastronomy with the modern approach of Cretan cuisine. Having worked in prestigious hotels and restaurants around the world, George found himself at Kenshō after being asked by the owner to visit the property and consider running the restaurant. “It was the architecture of the building that made me say ‘yes’ to his proposal. When I cook, I put a lot of feeling into my dishes, so I need the environment to be right,” George tells me over a morning coffee by Kenshō’s poolside. “The lighting, the natural materials and way that the building curves—the vibe automatically clicked with me, so I had to cook here.”
George takes a creative approach to the Cretan and Mediterranean cuisine he produces, using unique flavours and flairs from his home island of Crete, where he learned to cook with his grandmother. Having moved from fast-paced city restaurants to his kitchen in Kenshō where he dictates the pace, George explains that “good food takes time—slow food is important.” He tells me how his grandmother would get out of bed at 5am to start preparing lunch, which would be served at 2pm. Watching her care with the ingredients she picked from the garden, fish his grandfather caught for the family meal and seasoning she used in every dish inspired George to pursue a career in cooking: “My inspiration was all experiential and emotive. I want people to feel the earth and the sea in my dishes, much like I did during family meal times.”
Having spent years mastering his craft by following the steps of his idols who were trained in French fine dining and Michelin-starred dishes, George soon realised that his craft was not spotlighting his heritage. In a quest to bring Greek cuisine to the world stage and perhaps someday earn a Michelin star for Greek flavours, George turned away from French-style food and looked to the Spanish for inspiration in taking his native cuisine global. “I saw the way the Spanish think and create, using few products but staying true to traditional flavours, managing to create a masterpiece,” George told me, excitedly, “and that’s when I started to look at Greek cuisine and how the natural surroundings could tell the flavour stories without overcomplicating the dish.” That’s when he decided to put the Greek Islands into his food.
“I want people to taste my home, my heritage. It would make me incredibly emotional to receive a Michelin star for my Cretan and Greek food, as the great flavour profiles are often overlooked by other European giants,” George explains between random outbursts in Greek in the direction of his bustling kitchen. “That was the inspiration behind the new restaurant here at Kenshō Ornos. Simplicity. But this is sometimes difficult as you rely more heavily on the quality of the ingredients.” Kenshō Fine Dining restaurant features imaginative and original recipes, high-quality ingredients, Greek and Mediterranean cuisine with a modern approach. Guests of the awarded Kenshō Ornos restaurant have the unique opportunity to taste dishes that set the standard of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant takes the gastronomic experience to another level, welcoming guests to experience the taste of the Greek Islands while enjoying unspoilt views of the natural land the ingredients have been foraged from.
George has taken a creative approach to Cretan and Mediterranean cuisine, offering diners a range of statement & signature dishes that combine local ingredients, modern cooking techniques and unexpected flavours, aromas and textures.
Having served in hotels across America for 16 years, including two private islands in Miami, George has managed to find himself back at home, championing his native cuisine he’s prepared for decades against the well-known giants. “Greek food is underrated and it’s the Greek’s fault. We misjudged what we had and mistreat our ingredients, so now the world thinks that we only have moussaka—and it’s actually Turkish!” he laughs.
With his residency at Kenshō, George is on a path to change the way Greek cuisine is perceived around the world. Researching recipes that are 400 years old, George features imaginative and original recipes and high-quality ingredients on his menu, giving guests the unique opportunity to taste dishes that set the standard of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine.
For more information on the restaurant and hospitality offerings of Kenshō Boutique Hotels and Villas, visit www.kenshomykonos.com.