Once upon a time I was born in Athens Greece from my mother Kiki who grew up in a village named Koroni and met my dad while attending Temple University, and from my father Vasily who grew up in Athens and was studying for his MBA in Drexel university when he met my mom. The first dish he made was a Moussaka and they have been together ever since.
In a Greek household, cooking is a daily practice, so I was always helping out. In the summer my grandma was making such soulfull dishes for her family. One summer my aunt opened a restaurant and my uncle a beach bar. They were right next to each other. My brothers, cousins and I all helped out in service, making coffees and drinks and one day I stepped into the kitchen. We were all young and its common in Greece for families to help out.
I would sit with my grandma and peel potatoes, help her in salads and wash the dishes.. one-day grandma couldn't make it! I took my opportunity and I stepped on a stool and stormed out the Greek salads, washed the plates and glasses with a new system and that was the day I fell in love!
In the winter I watched cooking shows and cooked meals weekly. I remember thinking how much I would love to have a cooking show.
When it was time to go to college after a failed attempt to Physical Therapy I decided to go to The Culinary Institute of America and I graduated with honors!Take me to Cook!
After working for Michelin Star Restaurant "Varoulko" in Greece, The Ritz Carlton Hotel, in Molecular Gastronomy while I was attending Florida International University, I started doing cooking competitions.
I was wining and volunteering in the school working with Rachel Ray and Tyler Florence of the Food Network, getting to meet Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Michelle Bernstein, Cat Cora, and so many famous and accomplished Chefs. I was getting a great reputation in the Miami area which eventually at 24 landed me an Executive Chef position at a Greek restaurant which won me my first "Best Greek Restaurant" Award and "Best New Restaurant of the Month" Award along with many publications.
I decided to move back to Greece to open my first location "Ribs" which within a month I was considering closing due to the recession just hitting the Greek economy. Thankfully I persevered and I changed the concept to Greek Street Food and named it "Riganato". Did I mention I also competed in "Top Chef" Athens? That was something else!
The business was booming and I opened a second location in Kaisariani and a third in downtown Athens as well as a Butcher Shop in Peristeri which supplied many famous Greek Street Food Restaurants. I became overwhelmed as I needed more business experience.
I came back to the US as a Chef and won again "Best Greek Restaurant" in Miami along with more publications.
Thankfully now I have it and I am opening 5 virtual concepts in Miami in 2021.Take me to the Restaurants!
I wanted to learn more about how to run profitable restaurants without being overwhelmed so I worked for an international company that could teach me.
I started with one store which increased sales, profitability, and employee retention within 6 months, and got the title of top 2 stores out of 50.
That lead me to a promotion to lead 6 stores for which we became the #1 District in the first month within 6 months I grabbed another 6 stores and immediately got them up the rank within 2 months another District needed help so I jumped in and lead 20 locations with 10 of those stores at top 10.
That gave me another promotion to be the Senior Manager of training of 50 locations and 1500 employees including training the new Vice President and 7 District Managers.
At that point, I felt satisfied to continue my entrepreneurial journey and came up with the opportunity to join an up-and-coming Greek chain and work with a long-term friend by becoming the Chief Operating Officer and setting us up for building to 50 locations.
With COVID that expansion was put at a stop and it made no sense for me to continue there. I was also doing my YouTube cooking show and had just launched my Online Cooking School so I focused on that by creating "Basic Knife Skills", "7 min Meal Prep", lauching my first cookbook "Pure Food, Pure Mood" as well as my new Spice Line!
However, as soon as things got better I couldn't help to want to go back on the floor and help struggling restaurateurs with something that I went through when I had my locations in Greece. I knew I could help so I started consulting restaurants in Miami and now help Chefs to open restaurants, current restaurant owners to increase profits or scale stress-free with my new Online Academy ORAMA. As I was recording the courses I couldn't help but sign a restaurant in SOBE that opened in 2022 with multiple virtual brands that students can also undertake for a safe start in the restaurant industry.Let's talk business!
We Art all One (Board of Directors)
Kiva (supporting starting entrepreneurs)