Until Theodore Kyriakou opened his “Real Greek” restaurant in London, the world knew only two kinds of Greek food: either the kind served in typical Greek restaurants abroad, the ones usually found in Astoria New York or in the Latin Quarter in Paris, all named “Acropolis” or “Aphrodite” (where the words “souvlaki” or “moussaka” were written on the window panes with golden ancient Greek lettering and where plates ― occasionally filled with Greek salad or octopus ― were smashed on the floor following the music of bouzouki), or the kind served at kebab and gyros houses: large pitta bread rolls filled with meat, garlicky tzatziki, onions and a lot of grease. The first kind of Greek restaurants abroad is still popular to people who have nostalgic memories of tourist traps in Greece. The second offers the right remedy for the hangovers of jubilant drunkards after lengthy pub-crawls.
Kyriakou was one of the first chefs to teach non-Greeks that there was more to Greek cuisine and Greek restaurants abroad than the food served in these establishments. By focusing on the freshest and most authentic ingredients, Kyriakou cooked known and unknown recipes drawn from Greek peasant cuisine or the home food his mother cooked in Athens. And this was so novel, so unpretentious and so tasty, that a mere lamb with an egg and lemon sauce and wild greens, a simple fish soup (kakavia) or an everyday dish of mixed vegetables (briam) cooked with extra virgin olive oil and fresh, ripe tomatoes, elevated the rustic and simple Greek food into refined haute cuisine.
Jim Botsakos (“Molyvos”) and Kostas Spiliadis (“Milos”) did the same in New York, while in Europe, Andreas Mavrommatis (Le Bistrot Mavrommatis in Paris) and Κonstantinos Erincoglou (“Notos” in Brussels), have also become famous for their refined Greek cuisine and their Greek wine-based wine lists.