The Greek Chef at Scotland’s Best Restaurant

Chatting with Spiros Katridis, the Greek sous-chef and co-owner at Michelin-starred Condita.


On 15 Salisbury Place in Edinburgh, squeezed in between a hairdresser and a post office, a simple white façade hides an equally unpretentious interior. White walls, aluminium anti slip nosing on the steps, homey 50s-style wooden furniture, and wall hangings that reflect the seasons; this could be your home, but it’s not – it’s Scotland’s best restaurant, according to World Culinary Awards.

For all the pretention that Condita lacks, there’s reputation. Boasting a Michelin star since just months after its opening in 2018, the restaurant offers a secret tasting menu only (a bait gourmands hate, and find completely irresistible) and exclusively fantastic reviews. The fact that there are just six tables, meaning you need to make your reservations months in advance, also helps the buzz.

The food here comes with live presentations (since there is no menu) the likes of: “Scottish brown crab, mooli dressed in a chervil and tarragon vinaigrette, caviar and gorse flowers,” and, yes, each plate looks like a piece of art. But if a Greek person were to dine here, one of the things they might find most surprising are the uncannily familiar flavors that sometimes appear on the fork – and some words they’ve actually heard before, like “taramasalata.”

In the kitchen, working next to head chef Conor Toomey, is Greek co-owner and sous-chef Spiros Katridis.

Hi Spiros! Congratulations on your success. We understand that your last achievement – being named the best restaurant in Scotland by the World Culinary Awards – came as a bit of a surprise?

To begin with I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about our restaurant Condita! Yes, the title came as quite a surprise. We are a new restaurant – opened less than three years ago. After such a tough year for our industry, to us, this award was exactly what we needed. It gives us the strength to keep pushing and evolving.

You grew up in Greece, on the island of Aegina. How important was the food you grew up with in shaping your future as a chef, and are you inspired by the Greek cuisine?

Definitely! Mediterranean cuisine and especially Greek is one of my favorites. While I don’t recall food from my childhood when work on a dish – I tend to use what I have learned the last ten years more that my personal memories as a kid – I will naturally think of flavors and combinations that I have eaten the most and feel more comfortable with, therefore Greek cuisine is what’s inspired me the most.

 

Since I left Greece at a young age, I’ve worked and trained under very charismatic multicultural chefs with strong characters. Their food was forced into me in a way, and I kind went with it, adopted their techniques and kept what I liked the most.

Conor Toomey, your head chef, is from South Africa. You’re from Greece, and you’re cooking in Scotland. Are there ever traces of your heritages on the (surprise) menu at Condita?

That’s a great question. Looking at our food it wouldn’t make you think of either South African or Greek food, for sure. But take a second look with those glasses on and you could definitely find some traces of our heritage in it. Now that you mention it, today we’re serving both South African ‘’Biltong’’, which is a salt cured and aged cut of meat ranging from beef to ostrich and kudu, and – the very familiar to us Greeks – ‘’taramasalata’’ a smooth cream made from the smoked and cured cod roe.

 

It’s worth mentioning that even though these two components are far from the Scottish culture, for both of these we use exclusively Scottish produce. Hebridean hogget for the ‘’biltong’’ and Scottish cod roe for the ‘’tara’’, both sourced just couple of miles from our restaurant.

You only offer a tasting menu, which is ever-changing and a surprise. What should guests expect to find on their plates?

The truth is that when the guests walk into our restaurant, they don’t really know what to expect. The decor changes seasonally and the menu is not written anywhere. When they are seated, they find a pictogram bookmark in front of them, with one ingredient drawn as a clue for each one of the courses. The bookmarks are hand drawn by one of our directors, Rachel, who sometimes makes each of them slightly different, creating a fun game for the guests in trying to puzzle together what their next course might be.

What about your general dining philosophy? Condita advertises an intimate dining experience; your Michelin star hasn’t changed your down-to-earth, homey style. Why is this important to you?

It’s very important to us that people feel they are dining in our home so they can relax, enjoy their evening and at the same time, be surprised by the journey. We like to connect with our customers, just like with our suppliers. Part of that is also supporting small and local producers. Fresh and seasonal ingredients are important to us, and we’re very lucky to have a kitchen garden in the Scottish borders were most of our vegetables and fruits come from.

So, kind of like the philosophy of traditional Greek tavernas! Tell us your journey: How did you get from where you started, all the way to part-owner and sous-chef at a Michelin starred restaurant in Edinburgh, where your little brother – as we understand, is now also the sommelier?

I think I was around the age of fifteen when I decided what I wanted to do for living. After finishing school, I moved to Athens and worked for nearly a year at a Greek restaurant, and soon after I left for London in order to start my studies at Le Cordon Bleu. I got my first job as a commis chef right out of school. It was in a really nice and small fine dining restaurant, and I learned a lot in a short period of time. After that, I trained. I worked in fine dining, sometimes Michelin-starred, restaurants in London until 2016, when I decided to move to Edinburgh looking for the next step of my career. And then the phone rang.

 

A few months after Condita opened I was given the opportunity to invest into the restaurant, so I did. Nine months after opening we received a Michelin Star, and we couldn’t have asked for more.

And yes, today my brother Kostas is our assistant sommelier! He’s working close and under the guidance of owner Mark Slaney, who hired us both, and who’s a wine writer with his own wine company.

What’s your next career goal?

At the moment I am not thinking of my next step. My goal right now is to stay and help with the evolution of Condita, but one day, with Conor’s help and guidance, of course I would like to be the head chef here.

 

Would you ever return to Greece? 

At some point in my life, yes, I hope my family and I can return to Greece, and especially to my island, Aegina. I miss it a lot.



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