Ένας άνθρωπος νέος, ικανός, φιλόδοξος και χαρισματικός μετακομίζει απ' την Αφρική στην Ελλάδα. Η επιθυμία του είναι να προσφέρει στους Έλληνες καλό φαγητό όπως ο ίδιος λέει και να συνδυάσει την αφρικανική κουζίνα με την ελληνική.
Το αποτέλεσμα συναρπάζει κυριολεκτικά οπτικά και κυρίως γευστικά! Τρία χρόνια μετά την άφιξή του στη χώρα, ο ιδιοκτήτης του Kozi's μας διηγείται που οφείλεται η επιτυχία, ποια τα μυστικά του χώρου και η φιλοσοφία του και σε ποια πρωτεύουσα της Ευρώπης θα βρούμε μελλοντικά το νέο Kozi's! H παρακάτω συνέντευξη έγινε στα αγγλικά, που είναι και η μητρική γλώσσα του Κωνσταντίνου.
Δημοσιεύτηκε: August 2, 2013
So where do you come from? Is it Africa or Greece?
Well, I come from Africa, from Johannesburg. I was born and raised there until I was 18 years old and then I moved to Greece. Life in Africa was good, a little bit dangerous because of criminality. And that is the reason why I left Africa. We were a family of six people, two boys, two girls and my parents. And we all left and moved in Greece.
Is it a family business?
I started the restaurant with my father but basically it's a family business. My sisters work here, my brother works here and my mother works here!
Have you studied something relevant to your work?
No, I actually studied international communications, which helps in some way! But I didn't study something relevant to my work. Grilling is my passion.
And do you have any hobbies?
I like cooking...
Do you like cooking or grilling?
I actually like grilling, you're right! I like everything that has to do with meat! Basically my hobby is grilling and watching football.
When was the first time that you remember yourself grilling?
Ever since I was a little boy and we had a barbeque at home I was standing by the fire, my father was giving me some pieces of meat and some beer to drink and so since I was so young I learnt that meat and beer is the greatest combination!
People talk about the quality of food here
The most important thing for us is the quality. The quality must be good. The meat is only Greek and Dutch.
Dutch really? Where can you find Dutch meat here? Everything is also so tasteful! Do you have any secrets?
That's a secret! But yes, basically the most important thing is the quality, that's why people like us.
When people come over, I want them to be licking their fingers I want them to be messy and everything! When they eat with their hands, then it is better! Everything in the restaurant is made by us, every sauce, every dessert and that's where I think you can see the difference. Other places may have ready sauces for example. My mother makes all the sauces. Also me for the salads but basically my mother!
What did you do before opening the restaurant? And what inspired you to start with this business?
After I studied in Athens, I lived in London for six months and worked in a Chinese restaurant. Then I came back to Greece, to Paros and worked there at a beach bar for two months and then I worked at this place Coupepe, the pizza place, and then decided to open this restaurant. It was good... I got to see you know... everything... a bit of London, a bit of Paros, a bit of Coupepe. I saw good things and I saw bad things and I made up my mind... I said that's enough, now I'm going to do something by myself!
What inspired me... I wanted to have something different! I didn't want the place to have only lemon for instance and oregano... I wanted it to be something special. Something that you couldn't find anywhere else in Greece. Something that wouldn't exist in a souvlaki place wouldn't exist in a tavern. So I wanted it to be different from everything else. And of course to open a place that would offer meat -because Greeks love meat- but in a different style.
Can you share a quick recipe of yours?
Yes of course! There's also on the menu. It's the honey delight. You take one piece of halumi and you cut it in four pieces. Then you wrap each piece with prosciutto, you put it for six minutes in the oven. When it comes out from the oven must be a golden color, you pour some wine, squeeze some lemon juice on top and that's it!
How did you come up with the name Kozis?
It's my nickname! That's how everybody calls me now and ever since I can remember everybody was calling me 'Kozi Kozi', which comes from Konstandinos. So the name of the shop was the easiest thing to find! The way the name is on the card, it's exactly my handwriting.
How is the restaurant related to the African cuisine?
First of all it's not 100% African but it's also Greek. I wanted it to be something that the Greeks can eat what they are used to and someone, who wants to taste something different will be able to taste it. That was the whole idea. The spices that we use for the meat, those are indeed south African spices.
How long do you have the restaurant now and which was the most successful year?
I have it for three years now and it's getting better year after year.
And what about the economic crises? Did the whole situation have any impact on you and the restaurant?
I don't believe in crisis. People have to eat. It doesn't matter if they have one euro, ten euros or hundred euros. I just want to feed the people and have respect for their money. I know it's not easy for a whole family with kids to go to a restaurant and it doesn't really matter if I believe in crisis or not. I still have to respect the people and that's why we try to give the best service in total.
Is there any specific reason why you don't reserve tables?
I just wanted it to be first come first served. It's not a five stars restaurant. I don't believe you have to book a table in order to eat a hamburger or a stake. If you want you can come, you can wait I just wanted it to be strictly first come first served. The basketball team of Panathinaikos is coming here to eat quite often. That makes them 17 people. But everybody waits that's the rule! If my sister comes here to eat, she will have to wait! There's no exception!
Which is the most useful 'tool' for you in your work?
The most useful and important things in my work is imagination and patience.
If you were the client, what would be your choice? And what is the most famous plate here?
I eat a lot! I would have the Kozi's burger and the Rib Eye Stake. Also the Kozi's salad. It sounds strange but these are my favorites! And from the appetizers the mushroom, the African Portobello plate. And for desert I would have the cheesecake with nutella! And one of the African beers to drink, or the African wine, so with all the African spices in the food I would have the full package!
For the favorite plates I would say the Rib Eye Stake and the Kozi's Burger.
How is it to work with your family?
Working with my family is the best thing it could happen to me and I am very lucky. Everybody gives his/ her best. Even if we do have some fight, we fight at least for a good reason. In the beginning it was difficult cause I told you, you need patience but in the beginning I had no patience. Now we know, when we need space, we give each other space and we have to do something all together we can do it!
Is there a specific moment that you remember and won’t forget which took place here?
For me... I would say the best moment is each moment that I see a table full of people eating and enoying themselves and moving their hands like they want to say that the food is delicious! These kinds of moments are always in my head! And of course I can also clearly remember the first day. It was stressful I was nervous but also excited, happy and freaked out at the same moment! I had all kind of emotions... all mixed up together.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens?
I would say Coupepe. This is a model of success. It's a place that exists for six years and each time that I go there they are always friendly and they keep making me happy. They never disappoint me.
What kind of people come to Kozi's?
Giagiades and pappoudes come, families come, friends come, couples come... everyone comes. I wanted it to be for everyone. It's not just for rich people or something. It's for them, who want to eat something, they can not make by themselves.
What do you like the most in your job? And what makes Kozi's different from the other restaurants?
I like the challenge. Because you know... it's food, it's not plastic. So every time the steak comes out, it has to come the same way, the most perfect way. It's this challenge that you have to satisfy the people. I see it in their eyes and on their faces if and when they enjoy it. That's what I like the most. Seeing happy people eating the food.
I would like to believe it's the service, it's the quality. I just think it's not just a work... it's a whole philosophy. It's not what you do, it's how you do it. It's not what you get, it's the way you get it. If the food looks sexy, then you'll see people enjoying it. If the food wasn't served in this attractive way, then there's nothing really special. And also the fact that it's an open kitchen, so when you walk into the shop you see the food, you smell the food. You have the vision of it, not just the menu.
What about the future? Would you consider opening another Kozi's somewhere else?
My plan is a Kozi's in three capital cities. One in Athens, one in London and I'm not sure yet about the third one. Also what I want is a beach bar in Greece. And... it is going to happen!
How could you describe this place with three words?
I would say... Meat And Eat!
|| Π. Τσαλδάρη 32-34, Μελίσσια