The Fitzrovia restaurant's kitchen was notoriously aggressive in the late 90s and early 2000s when it was headed by Tom Aikens. The then two Michelin-star chef was fired for allegedly branding the hand of a trainee employee with a hot palette knife.
"The industry is changing," says Chaniotis . "I worked briefly at Per Se in New York. The kitchen has three stars to hold onto but the atmosphere is calm and there is certainly no swearing. I'm not saying I've never sworn myself because I have, but I try not to now and never at anyone."
Chaniotis says the kitchen is much calmer now than it ever has been. "It's not like the old days but I want it to become even more nurturing and less aggressive. This will really help with retention. In some of the kitchens I've worked in chefs only lasted six months on account of the very aggressive atmosphere. Banning swearing is one small but important step."
The odd mild expletive in the heat of the moment is apparently permissible, but staff can expect written warnings if they swear at colleagues. "I doubt it will ever come to that, all the team are on board," adds Chaniotis
A press statement announcing the appointment said the 27-year-old would bring a ‘fresh vision for the future’ to the French restaurant, which opened its doors in 1993.
Chaniotis is launching a new menu this autumn with dishes inspired by his upbringing in Athens, Greece and his time working at Pied a Terre under former head chefs Marcus Eaves and Andy McFadden.
McFadden, who joined the restaurant as executive head chef in 2015, is no longer involved in the business.
“We want to maintain a truly modern dining experience at Pied à Terre and Asimakis will be sure to bring this,” says Pied a Terre founder David Moore.
Chaniotis’ appointment comes at an interesting juncture for Pied à Terre. Moore closed its sister site L’Autre Pied in Marylebone in September a year after it lost its Michelin star.
The restaurateur told BigHospitality in August he was also looking at making Pied à Terre feel more ‘contemporary’ after admitting it was possibly ‘not appealing to younger diners’.
“London is such an energetic restaurant city if feels like if you sit back and do nothing you’re sliding backwards,” he said.
Chaniotis’ new dishes will include smoked quail, organic spelt risotto and wild mushrooms, which release a ‘smoky mist’ when served; and grouse, beetroot, port and mint.
Moore founded Pied a Terre in 1991 and it won its first Michelin star in 1993, followed by a second in 1996. It lost the second accolade it 2012 but still holds a one-star rating.