Born in Athens, Chef Karampampas is no stranger to the Greek capital’s dining scene as he has carried out his professional culinary training in hotel restaurants of high standards. Starting his career at one of the city center’s most renowned hotels, he mastered the “art” of la carte cuisine. His culinary passion for Greek gastronomy lead him to other high end hotels of the city and all-inclusive hotels. “My creative spirit lead me to focus on Greek modern cuisine”, he tells us. In 2013, Chef Karampampas decided to share his passion for cuisine by becoming a culinary trainer at IEK DELTA in Athens.
Athens Melia this year is introducing a new menu based on Greek creative cuisine, which includes a special set up menu named “Greek flavors” and Chef Karampampas tells us all about it.
“At the Sky Lounge Rooftop Dining Bar, with the magnificent views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus from the pool, guests will travel on a gastronomy journey of traditional Greek flavors…” – Dimitris Karampampas
GTP: Is food the way to a tourist’s heart? Do you believe gastronomy is included among the factors that influence repeat visitors to a destination?
Dimitris Karampampas: Food definitely speaks to everyone’s heart! It does not just cover our basic need for survival, but has evolved as a means of pleasure. Flavors can awaken the senses and create memories that are afterwards connected with special moments of our life, such as holidays. Gastronomy plays a significant role on choosing a destination and travelers often visit the same destination over and over again for the food experience. Just imagine a traveler from the Northern countries tasting olive oil again when back home. He or she will experience feelings and memories from their last travel to Greece.
- GTP: What is your culinary background? Please share some career highlights with our readers.
Dimitris Karampampas: I was lucky to start my career in the Athens Hilton, a hotel with high standards and requirements. There, I gained my first experience in la carte cuisine as well as in catering services, which I carried on to the Grande Bretagne, the Royal Olympic, The Athens Gate and other catering services and all-inclusive hotels. My creative spirit lead me to focus on the Greek modern cuisine, which I successfully implemented in my recent positions. Now, I am holding the position of the Executive Chef at Melia Athens.
- GTP: How would you sum up Melia’s approach to Greek cuisine? What should the visitors of the city center and the guests of the Melia Athens expect this season from Melia’s menu?
Dimitris Karampampas: This year, Melia Athens, is introducing a new menu based on Greek creative cuisine. At the Sky Lounge Rooftop Dining Bar, with the magnificent views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus from the pool, guests will travel on a gastronomy journey of traditional Greek flavors, cooked exclusively with fresh raw materials from local providers, with a creative touch.
Melia Athens is a member of Melia Hotels International, one of the leading hotel companies in the world — with awarded restaurants — that focuses on delivering the best experience to its guests.
- GTP: Does Melia Athens have a “signature dish”?
Dimitris Karampampas: We are happy to present a special set up menu “Greek Flavors”, which consists of 5 unique dishes that represent the menu in total. It includes ingredients like octopus, “apaki”, pork belly and “kaimaki” ice cream.
“The gastronomy scene in Athens has positively changed… New chefs match their creativity with the high standards that a hotel offers and successfully manage to create high end menus.”
- GTP: How has the dining scene changed in Athens’ hotels in the last five years?
Dimitris Karampampas: Over the last years the gastronomy scene in Athens has positively changed. Greeks have begun to trust and dine at hotel restaurants, which also have evolved in more than offering breakfast buffets. New chefs match their creativity with the high standards that a hotel offers and successfully manage to create high end menus.
- GTP: Could Athens be considered as a top foodie destination? And, Athens aside, what is your favorite food destination and why?
Dimitris Karampampas: Athens has evolved to a top foodie destination, as a metropolitan capital should be. With top quality raw materials that generously come from the Greek nature, apart from our local cuisine, Athens has a variety of international restaurants like Asian, Chinese, French, Indian etc.
I don’t have a favorite foodie destination, because each place brings me something special and I love all local products.
- GTP: Chefs in the hospitality industry must remain creative (creating new recipes and dishes). What is your secret?
Dimitris Karampampas: Definitely creativity is one of many virtues a chef must have. Cooking is a passion and a chef should be committed 100%. There is no secret to success. It’s a combination of love for the profession and hard work, while following the culinary trends and building experience.
- GTP: What food trends or ingredients are you currently focused on?
Dimitris Karampampas: I like to cook in vacuum-packed plastic bags for many hours in low temperature. All chefs usually love specific materials, although each one is unique. My favorite materials are fresh thyme, mint, vinegar, salt and of course olive oil.
- GTP: Name five things you like the most about Greek food.
Dimitris Karampampas: I like local traditional cheese such as “Volaki Androu”, fresh seafood like squid and seasonal aromatic herbs and spices. Also, traditional cooked meals that are local flavors in the Greek villages combined with local wine and of course the warm Greek hospitality. This is when food feels like a dream.
- GTP: Which part of Greece do you come from and is there a dish/recipe from back home that you think should receive more promotion in the city?
Dimitris Karampampas: My origin is from Kalloni Trizinias a seaside village, home of citrus trees, all kinds of vegetables and seafood since the bay of “Saronikos” is famous for its tasty fauna. Although it’s not famous for a specific traditional dish, I believe that my village is responsible for my love in good quality raw materials.
- GTP: Is there a specific Greek product that you believe should be promoted more abroad in order to attract holidaymakers interested in gastronomy tourism?
Dimitris Karampampas: Greece is the source of so many top quality products that already attract travelers from abroad and act as ambassadors, promoting Greek gastronomy. Such products include virgin olive oil and Greek cheese.
- GTP: As a hospitality industry professional, what would be your best piece of advice for travelers?
Dimitris Karampampas: An advice I would give to a traveler, is one I practice myself: “Don’t hesitate to taste local flavors and local raw materials”. Local cuisine can immediately introduce you to the local culture, as gastronomy plays a significant role in a country’s heritage.
Melia Athens’ Sky Lounge Rooftop Dining Bar is located on the 9th floor and operates daily during the summer season (mid May to mid October Guests can enjoy a variety of drinks, snacks and ice creams from 10:30 to 18:30. After 20:00, a la carte dinner is served in a breezy atmosphere under the stars with the breathtaking view of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill (Dinner timings: 20:00-23:30, Bar timings: 20:00-01:00)