Chef of the Week: Ioannis Grammenos, Meatologist & Executive Chef at The Hippodrome Casino, London

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
I’ve been employed at the Hippodrome and Heliot Steak House for 11 years and 6 months.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My passion for cooking originated from my home in Corfu, where my mum, a skilled chef, and I spent time together in the kitchen during my early years. Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by people who loved cooking, including my grandfathers who taught me about animals and the forest, and my grandmothers who shared their knowledge about herbs and seafood.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
What I enjoy the most about being a chef is the ability to taste and work with a variety of ingredients, including meat, vegetables, and fish. This is a unique aspect of my job, and I also take pleasure in collaborating with my team to design creative menus.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Three essential ingredients I couldn’t cook without are steak, Greek extra virgin olive oil, and Feta cheese.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I couldn’t live without my steak knives and Thermomix in the kitchen – both essential tools for my culinary work.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
I’m currently observing a positive trend in the beef industry, where efforts are being made to produce exceptional quality beef while actively working to reduce emissions and carbon footprint globally.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
A common mistake that can let chefs down is a lack of communication with both their kitchen team and the front-of-house (FOH) staff. It’s crucial to view the entire staff as one team with a unified purpose, providing training, explaining dishes, and recognizing that FOH team members are ambassadors for the restaurant. Clear communication enhances the overall dining experience.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
Summer is a season I would always be happy to embrace forever, given the abundance of high-quality ingredients, vibrant flavours, and fresh products at their peak. The richness and variety during this time contribute significantly to the culinary experience, making it a season I cherish.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
While I can’t help but appreciate the exceptional steaks from around the world, including the esteemed gold winners at the World Steak Challenge, I hold my grandma’s recipe for meatballs with tomato sauce and feta cheese close to my heart. It’s a testament to the sentimental value and unique flavours that can only come from cherished family recipes.

How do you come up with new dishes?
I draw inspiration for my dishes from both my travels, where I discover new and exciting ingredients and the stories people share with me about their personal lives. This dual source of inspiration allows me to create a diverse and meaningful culinary experience.

Who was your greatest influence?
My mum taught me how to cook with the rare and essential ingredient—Love. It adds a unique and heartfelt touch to every dish.

Tell us three chefs you admire.

What is your favourite cookbook?
The Silver Spoon and The Whole Cow.

Who are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
Ben Murphy, he is a young but very talented chef with bright future.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
I found Kapara in Soho to be fresh and fun. Chef Eran Tibi truly showcases the incredible cuisine of his country.