Flash-grilled: Kostas Papathanasiou

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Flash-grilled with chef Kostas Papathanasiou of Jason Atherton's No.5 Social

Related tags: Chef, Restaurant, London, Jason atherton, Fine dining

After a two-year stint at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social, Kostas Papathanasiou recently moved to oversee the kitchen at Atherton's newly launched No.5 Social in Mayfair.

What was your first job?
Apprentice chef at the Ashford Hotel in Ireland.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
Burger and chips.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Dinner at The Fat Duck; slightly biased as I used to work there, but it honestly is my favourite.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why? 
Brett Graham; he’s an excellent cook, is passionate, and a great leader. 

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do? 
Since I was 14 I knew I wanted to cook. It was my very first job, and since then I have never thought of changing career or had any doubts so I just can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s my passion.

What is your biggest regret?
I don’t believe in regrets, so none.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
Low quality ingredients. My ethos at No.5 Social is to source the very best produce from top quality suppliers. It’s worth spending more to get good ingredients.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
Someone once tried to order a Caesar salad without lettuce.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Hot and iced tea from The Fat Duck. It’s one of Heston Blumenthal’s most famous creations; a cup that contains hot tea in one half and iced tea in the other half, divided vertically but with no visible divider in the cup. It’s amazing.

Describe your cooking style in three words.
Seasonal, fresh and vibrant.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
People not showing respect for others, which unfortunately can be common in this industry.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Thomas Keller; he inspires me, and I have looked up to him throughout my career.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
Don’t give up! It’s almost inevitable that you will have setbacks along the way, but it’s important to pick yourself back up and keep going.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
A knife.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
A great Thai curry or stir fry. I love Southeast Asian food, I’ve travelled quite a lot of Asia and their simple street food is often the best dish you could ask for.

What’s your earliest food memory? 
Cooking with my grandparents in Greece. My grandfather had a huge wood fire oven, and I would help him make bread and pies.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Question everything!

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I wanted to climb Everest Base Camp and thought I didn’t need to join a tour to do so. I tried to do it on my own, but turns out this wasn’t such a good idea. I got altitude sickness and had to be carried to one of the stations where I stayed for a few days before I got better. Then I made my way back down so didn’t make it. I would like to try again one day but definitely won’t be doing it solo!

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
I’ll head out of London and be closer to nature, preferably hiking mountains. I visited the Lake District last month and loved it.

Tipple of choice?
An old fashioned.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
The tasting menu at the Chef’s Table in Brooklyn Fair in NYC.

Related topics: People

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