Going down the road to Panormos, you are faced with a beautiful scenery, set up there by the people of Principote. Aesthetics, finesse and professionalism are three words that perfectly characterize this principality of Mykonos that wins you over before you even cross the threshold of the entrance. The Mykonos Post was in the fortunate position not only to cross the threshold of the Principote entrance but to enter the kitchen and meet the head chef Michalis Kikis. The conversation with him, whetted our appetite even more, so that we could try the delicious dishes of the menu, but mainly to discover all the secrets hidden behind the menu and its preparation.
“Leading a kitchen with a staff of 50 people and having a four-digit number of people served on a daily basis is very demanding. You need to be absolute, consistent and have a well-tuned team”
What is the philosophy of Principote cuisine?
Our philosophy is Mediterranean, Greek, creative. Our priority is to work with Greek raw materials, always maintaining our Cycladic character.
What is it like to lead a kitchen with special requirements, such as the Principote kitchen?
Leading a kitchen with a staff of 50 people and having a four-digit number of people served on a daily basis is very demanding. You need to be absolute, consistent and have a well-tuned team, so that it can be worthy of the volume of work, but also of the required high quality. Therefore, the role of head chef in the kitchen of Principote is a challenge for me and the primary goal we have with my team is to perform continuously in the best possible way.
Please describe to me a working day at Principote.
A typical day starts with picking sea fennel on the beaches of Mykonos. Then the machines take over. We check the raw materials with our suppliers and start preparing the food. At 12 p.m. everything is set up and ready, so we can proceed to our daily briefing and start at the main restaurant while the snack menu and our beach menu already serves our customers from 10.30 a.m. The pace is definitely fast and the demands are unstoppable, but with proper organization and discipline everything runs smoothly and within the time frames we have set.
“Mykonos is now an international ultra luxury destination. Undoubtedly we have reached this point because there is a corresponding audience, which can support luxury”.
Do you use traditional raw materials of Mykonos in the preparation of recipes?
Being in Mykonos it would be really absurd not to use traditional materials. All our fish are from our sea, the salt (afralato) is collected from our beaches, the sea fennel, the cheese mould (tyrovolia), even the yogurt, come exclusively from our island. We have also taken local recipes and execute them in our own way, such as the Mykonian louza, which we have differentiated, using wagyu beef.
After five years of operation, what characterizes the Principote menu?
Freshness, quality and variety. Our concern is for our customer to eat the purest products, excellently cooked and combined in the most ideal way, while at the same time the quality of production and serving remains constant, at the high levels we have set
from the beginning.
“All our fish are from our sea, the salt (afralato) is collected from our beaches, the sea fennel, the cheese mould (tyrovolia), even the yogurt, come exclusively from our island”.
Are there options for vegetarian and vegan customers?
We have created a menu exclusively for our customers with these eating habits. We fully respect every category of customers and in fact we try to constantly enrich this menu with new flavors and ideas, as these audiences are growing.
Have you ever encountered customers who had unreasonable demands? How did you deal with it?
I have been in Mykonos for 12 years, so I have met quirky demands several times. It is now considered commonplace, so no, I would not call them unreasonable. We take care to fulfill each wish of our customers separately and we have provided so that we can meet even the most special needs.
“I have been in Mykonos for 12 years, so I have met quirky demands several times. It is now considered commonplace, so no, I would not call them unreasonable”.
What are your favorite materials and what are your influences?
Favorite ingredients are basil, sea urchin and ginger. I rely purely on Mediterranean cuisine, having some slight influences from Asia.
How many years have you been working as a chef? What characterizes you as a professional in this difficult and demanding field?
I have been working in the field for 13 years, but it will never be enough. Our industry has no end, every day you learn something new, you need to embrace cooking as a way of life. To be honest, I think I got here because I really love what I do, and if anything characterizes me is stability, creativity and intense passion.
“I think I got here because I really love what I do, and if anything characterizes me is stability, creativity and intense passion”.
What, in your opinion, makes Mykonos stand out in terms of gastronomy?
Mykonos is now an international ultra luxury destination. Undoubtedly we have reached this point because there is a corresponding audience, which can support luxury. Entrepreneurs and celebrities come from all over the world to experience the unique experience and incomparable quality of the island. Many and large investments have been made in Mykonos by internationally renowned brands and this is by no means accidental.
What were the additions you made to the menu this year?
Every year we want to present something different to our customers. This year’s additions were many, all based on freshness, strong taste and good raw material. However, they continue during the season, since we create daily dishes of the day, which are prepared with zest and fresh ingredients we collect from the island.