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Konstantin Philippou-The Greek-Austrian 2-Michelin star chef

He is one of the brightest rising food stars in Vienna. His approach to fine dining? Outward-looking, more experimental…

Konstantin Philippou-The Greek-Austrian 2-Michelin star chef

He is one of the brightest rising food stars in Vienna. His approach to fine dining? Outward-looking, more experimental… We put the blame on his passion (owed to his Greek side of the family) for giving the city’s dining scene a completely genuine jolt!

1. “Be the vinegar in a crowd that still believes in the virtues of honey” by Elinor Burkett. That’s the welcoming message of your restaurant website. Why did you choose it?
KF: That’s a very good question. Basically, it’s a clear reference to us, what we do, and how we started the business. We did many things, not the usual way when we opened our restaurant. We strongly believe there must also be another way to do fine dining in the 21st century. And that’s what we did.

2. You opened “Konstantin Filippou” Restaurant in 2003. Then the first Michelin star knocked on your door! How did you feel? How did you cope with this success?
KF: Of course, we felt thrilled and blessed, and also it was important to know that we are on the right way. Plus, a Michelin Star is not all about the ego. It’s about approaching guests from all over the globe and, most importantly, getting great stuff.

3. Last year, you stated that you would like a second Michelin star. And your dream came true! What kind of changes were made to the restaurant that helped you achieve this goal?
KF: We underwent a huge renovation, got a completely new kitchen, renovated our private dining room completely, made major changes in the main dining room and sharpened our profile by every means.

4. What would you sacrifice to retain these 2 stars?
KF: Every day, we give our very best. That’s all we can do.

5. In 2015 “O Boufes” opened its doors to the public, right next to the restaurant…
KF: I have always wanted a ‘living room’ atmosphere place to round up our gastronomic offer. That this was possible right next door was like winning the lottery. We do bistro-style dishes there, play with our Greek heritage and offer a huge variety of natural wines.

6. You are the writer of a cookbook as well! What were your intentions behind this project?
KF: I have always dreamt of doing my own cookbook. When I gathered the right team (see press information enclosed), we just did it. Without a publishing house. The book is available in our restaurants, in bookstores, we ship worldwide, you can get it on Amazon – both in German and English.

7. On one hand, the gastronomic Greek element and, on the other hand, the Austrian one. How do you balance these two successfully?
KF: Both elements are always there and they come naturally. They have always influenced my work – and always will.

8. What are your “best-seller” dishes?
KF: In the Restaurant, we already have quite a few classics: the brandade, or the langoustine. In the bistro, guests love our Greek dishes: prawn saganaki, fava, and keftedes (meatballs)….

9. Sustainability & carbon footprint: Have these concepts found fertile ground in your kitchen?
KF: Of course. In my learning years, I was lucky to have been working with chefs who taught me how to use everything e.g. from an animal to veggies – everything. I pass on this knowledge to my team and make sure that we produce zero waste.

10. In your opinion, what is the power of Greek cuisine?
KF: Simplicity and deep flavours.

11. Hard work, devotion, and love for cooking have constituted the basis of your successful career all these years. But I am pretty sure that there are some people who have contributed immensely to that as well… Care to share?
KF: Sure! My wife is my biggest support. She is a strong part of my background and helps me to fulfil my dreams. Then my 2 sous chefs and a great Restaurant manager who has been with me for many years now. I am very lucky and thankful.

Dive into the past
12. My wild guess: Summers in Kalamata, Greece, and winters in Graz, Austria. Share with us some childhood memories, food, flavours, aromas… Is it possible to trace the reason for pursuing a career as a chef back then;
KF: Yes, that’s how it has been. With memories of catching octopus by hand, as my dad taught me, spending hours in the sea, collecting wild oregano with my uncle and sucking prawns’ heads and feeling happy. Winters in Austria were filled with snowboarding…

13. You go out to dinner. What do you usually order?
KF: I love our Viennese Gasthaus scene. Offal has a big tradition. But I also love all kinds of Asian food.

14. Who cooks at home?
KF: I do.

15. What are your dreams and hopes for your future as a chef and as a man?
KF: I love to keep on doing what I’m doing. With as many adventures as possible.

By: Dora Dimitroula

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