1. Tell us a few things about yourself so we can get to know you better: your name and surname, your age (date), zodiac sign, the place you grew up at, where do you live now and what do you do for a living.
My name is Vassilis Kallimoukos and I am 38 years old. I was born in the heart of summer, on the 16th of July 1981 and my sign is cancer. I was born and raised in Athens. For the last year, I have been living in Crete, in Douliana Apokoronou, a small village 20 minutes away from Chania. I studied Mass Media & Communication while also getting my diploma in Culinary Arts. I have been cooking professionally for the last 15 years. I started off as a cook at Semiramis hotel and ended up working as a private chef for luxury yachts and private villas. For the last year, I have been working on building my own business, offering private cooking services in Crete.
2. Which is your favorite place to visit, and how often do you go there (and a couple of comments – why)?
Without any doubt, it is the center of Athens. I miss it dearly since I’ve moved to Crete. I try to visit it as often as I can, every chance I get. As the author Stratis Tsirkas once wrote, “Athens will always be the city that reflects the dreams of the centuries”.
3. Describe yourself in three words (or less).
Over optimistic, diligent, strict.
4. What is your favorite color, and your favorite taste?
My favorite color is white, although technically it’s not a color. My favorite tastes are many, stuffed tomatoes and peppers (gemista) in August, ripe figs with sour goat cheese, a spicy graviera cheese with a drizzle of honey, a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread with extra virgin olive oil and fresh oregano, wild asparagus in the pan with fried eggs… I love to play and study chess, basketball and hiking.
5. What motivates you to get out of bed each morning?
The paws of my dog Kirki right next to my face!
6. Through your love for cooking, what do you like most about it? What is the strongest image you have imprinted in your head?
Cooking is the epitome of all sciences, which really means the way humans try to understand what’s happening around them. It’s a form of expression. It’s magical to be able to glorify fresh produce using basic cooking techniques. The memory that has really stayed with me, was the first night I was assigned the position of garde-manger chef. Saturday night, 9 pm, my station ready. I told myself “prepare for war”. I lifted my head after 3-4 hours. Everything went really well. I can’t even remember how many covers we had made that night.
7. Last year you moved to Crete, give us a quick description of living in Douliana.
You will find the first sign showing directions for the village of Douliana, a kilometer before you arrive. This speaks volumes about its size, but nothing on its beauty of little alleys and exquisite nature. It’s the ideal place to live, if you have a lot of things to say with yourself.
8. What is Crete for you?
I first visited Crete on holidays with my parents when I was 15. Since then, my instinct would always tell me that one day I would come to live here. Crete is a blessed land, there is a side of it that is still wild and unspoiled. I always think of her like a boat amidst the Mediterranean Sea, as author Skaribas once wrote “κι όλο να λες, να λες, στα θάμβη της νυκτός για ένα – με γυάλινα πανιά- πλοίο που πάει, όλο βαθιά, όλο βαθιά, όσο που πέφτει εκτός: όξ’ απ’ τον κύκλο των νερών – στα χάη”
9. What do you like/dislike?
I really like the close contact with nature, the earth and the sea. If you are a cook, you will fall in love with the rich and unique fresh produce of the island. In the negatives, the really dangerous road network in combination with the careless driving behavior. Sometimes life is too cheap.
10. What impressed you the most and why is unique?
When I first moved to Crete, I would notice the people and I was really impressed by how relaxed they all went about their work. Something that really stands out here, is how much more quality time you have.
11. Which place, or scenery, do you like the most?
The villages on the foothills of the White Mountains are magical. Theriso, Tzitzife, Lake Kourna.
12. Which activities would you propose to a friend that had 48 hours to spend in Chania?
To spend the first day exploring the Old Town of Chania and the second day to walk the Samarian Gorge. To be done in this order!
13. Tell us about a unique local recipe or a product, and what makes it so special?
Amazing fresh local produce are askolibri and stamnagkathi (both are wild greens). They are humble superfoods. Pieces of art in their simplicity. Unique local recipe is antikristo, an ancient method of roasting meat.
14. Which habit of the local people amazes you the most?
I love how much local people are involved with their land and animals. Almost every house makes its own exceptional yogurt or cheese.
15. What is your favourite thing to do in Crete, and which in Athens?
My favorite way to pass my time in Crete is hiking and riding my bicycle. In Athens, I played chess more often, something that I haven’t been able to make time for here.
16. Which is the most beautiful trip you’ve ever taken and which is the best image you have?
Every journey has its own unique beauty. I will always remember how amazing I felt on the roadtrip to the Scottish Highlands, the 15 days on motorbike to South Italy and Sicily, and the roadtrip to Tuscany. The memories are too many to count. I remember leaving our car in the middle of the road, somewhere along the Highlands, and in the total silence enjoying the snow as it fell. I swear you could hear the snow falling! Also, the most amazing food at the Oak Tree Inn beside the Loch Lomond lake, on our last hope to finding somewhere to sleep for the night. Travelling with my wife on our motorbike in the pouring rain somewhere close to Villa Romana del Casale, when we came across to two horses dancing wildly in a beautiful pasture. Our morning ride through the Aspromonte National Park, on our way to the Greek villages, the night walks in the alleys of Matera, and our amazing trips across the countryside of Tuscany. Let me stop here, there is no ending.
17. Where would you like to be now?
In a car, with the ones I love, going to a place I’ve never been.
18. Which is your next preferred destination?
So many… Bilbao, Granada, Argentina, Cusco of Peru…
19. Words to live by:
A quote by Galeano “Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking”.
20. What kind of music do you listen to these days? Mention your top-ten tracks and how would you name them if they were feelings.
Dreamer (delight) | Night Games (Kasper Bjørke Rework) (journey) | Metropolis Daybreak (harmony) | Midnight In Saigon (relaxation) | Harlem River (concetration) | Ressurection Blues (vagrancy ) | The Shining Path (intensity) | In the Air Tonight · VonLichten · Jessica Carvo (goosebumps) | High hopes (adolescence ) | Comfortably numb (happiness, ecstasy)