One of the most influential Greek chefs, Lefteris Lazarou, chef-patron of the emblematic restaurant “Varoulko” and the newest “arrival” “Bites & Wine” in Piraeus, takes us on a trip down memory lane and opens up about his humble beginnings, his love of the city of Piraeus and his plans for the future.
A third-generation resident of the port city of Piraeus, Lefteris is part of the gourmet legacy of Greece, and a die-hard fan of Ethnikos football club, the local rivals of Greek giants Olympiakos. Unpretentious and passionate, the restless chef is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the launch of the historic “Varoulko”. He is one of the most decorated chefs in Greece, with global recognition, as the 16 years in a row, Michelin Chef stars testify, as well as his numerous domestic awards.
While walking through the alleys of his old neighbourhood in Piraeus, Lefteris takes us to the fish market and we visit the first two shops that hosted his culinary “craziness”.
He knows Piraeus like the back of his hand. He even remembers the street alleys by their old names. “At the age of 12 I persuaded my father to take me with him when he shipped out to the sea. I had begun to feel my love for what he did early on. I watched him cook snails in the pot and pick it up for free from the winegrower’s shop, and I gradually realised what I wanted to do. It was a one-way street. I started at a very early age.”, he says.
He tells stories going a long way back when Piraeus hardly resembled today’s city at all. He takes us down streets that were once full of detached houses and dirt roads, shops with taverns, and shows us the places that housed traditional cafes in which the fans of Ethnikos and Olympiakos used to hang out.
Once we arrive at Deligiorgi street, where the second Varoulko opened he reminisces about the times when world leaders would stop and marvel at the beauty of his restaurant’s window. “This is where almost all the political leaders of Greece and Europe have passed by. The shop in its evolution was a beauty! Politicians such as De Gaulle, D’Alema, and others would stop outside and the neighborhood was terrified by the draconian security measures and the army of police officers because they did not know what was happening.”
In the second “Varoulko” in Deligiorgi, where Lefteris Lazaros was transferred in 1994
With the President of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Association of Sydney and the President of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in Greece
The fish market is the first stop of the chef on a daily basis
With the top French chef Bernard Loiseau, in Deligiorgi’s “Varoulko”
With the chairman of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Association of Sydney in Deligiorgi’s “Varoulko”
A young Lefteris Lazarou