In 2015 Giorgos Hatzigiannakis celebrated his 30th anniversary since his arrival on Santorini and the opening of his world-famous restaurant Selene. Thirty years dedicated to the development of Santorini’s cuisine and the promotion of the island as a destination for food lovers.
During the years when all Greece was fixated on French cuisine and foreign prototypes, ashamed of local cooking that represented the poverty of the old days, Giorgos and Evelyn Hatzigiannakis took a different stance. They created a stunning restaurant in Fira, overlooking the Caldera, and instead of serving filet mignon or pate with truffles, they looked to the humble products of Santorini for inspiration – the fava, little tomatoes, white aubergines, capers and fresh cheese – and they were the first to do so. They searched for old recipes, learned from neglected local cooks, experimented and made dishes that first won the hearts of foreigners and only much later those of the Greeks. Their success and recognition was not slow in coming. Journalists by the dozens descended on them to find out more about creative Santorinian cuisine. At the same time they set an example, not just for the island but for the whole country.
Their second enormous contribution was their attempt to pass on their values to their colleagues in the business and to infuse them with the spirit of collaboration, so that the whole sector of gastronomy (producers, wine makers, restaurateurs) would work collectively. It is not by chance that Santorini has evolved into the top gastronomic destination in Greece.
After years of being a landmark in Fira, Selene moved to the quiet, imperious settlement of Pyrgos and expanded its mission in a variety of ways.
In 2015, with the astonishing Thodoris Papanikolaou leading the Selene brigade for the second year, Giorgos Hatzigiannakis presented a creative, mature and emblematic Greek Cuisine, armed with its exceptionally attractive décor, well-rounded technique and incomparable tastes.
Characteristic dishes on the menu include:
“Spanakorizo”: normally just spinach, rice, onions, dill and lemon – is here a concoction with spinach, rice, leeks, kale, sheep’s milk yogurt, smeouro (red-raspberry). A creation that in terms of both aesthetics and taste touches on absolute perfection.
“Suckling pig”: small pork, with potato foam, potato peel chips, thickened with wine, pita bread, brawn, baked onion, garlic butter and tomato jam.
“Quail”: legs of quail, with ketchup from red Florina peppers, pureed carrots, roasted beetroot, gelee of beer and poached apple.
“Lamb with Trahana”: lamp – with liver, cream of sour trahana (rustic pasta), butter of Greek coffee and powdered porcini.
“Octopus yiouvetsi” (casserole with orzo): with grilled octopus, handmade orzo, quince, olive paté with truffles, mushroom chips, and sea breeze!
This impressive gastronomic experience concludes with a very interesting list of wines, mainly little known Santorini labels, which the restaurant’s indefatigable manager, Georgia Tsara, has managed to secure. It is our heartfelt wish that Giorgos Hatzigiannakis – the Patriarch of Cycladic Gastronomy – may go on to “celebrate his hundredth anniversary” full of vitality and creative ideas.