- “JUST BECAUSE,” SAYS MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY ABOUT HIS NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK
- Septemvriana: A Night of Terror for Greeks in Constantinople
- THE DARK DAY OF THE DISTOMO MASSACRE BY THE NAZIS
- The Hellenic Initiative’s 11th Annual Gala to Honor Ted Leonsis
- Full Circle: Indie Film Reconnects a Filmmaker with His Former Teacher-Turned Screenwriter
No Name on the Chef Jacket
by Laura Neroulias
Covid tested many of us and to this day, continues to. For some, it changed everything they ever knew and even derailed them on what they “thought” their expected paths should take them. This is exactly what happened with Christos Bisiotis – a celebrated chef now based in South Florida, who most famously has been known as the first Greek chef to ever cook at the White House, has been nominated for a Michelin Star and has opened up some of your beloved favorite establishments. Yes, he has cooked your meals and designed your cherished and mouthwatering menu items that keep you going back to, Estiatorio Milos – Hudson Yards, Avra (Beverly Hills, Madison and Lexington), MILA Miami, Carbone Miami, and much, much more.
Like many of us who are first generation Greek, their parents poured their blood, sweat and tears throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in the United States to build a future for their kids – while at the same time, making sure we had our Greek and Sunday school education. The “American Dream” continues to this day in 2023, and there is no better example than Christos Bisiotis.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Christos graduated from the culinary school in Greece, OTEK – the private Greek government’s highly regarded hospitality school which only allows in the best of the best. Like many of his tattoos, cooking is etched in him for life. Being influenced at a child, Christos spent much of his time cooking with his dear grandmother Terpsichore who taught him how to, “cook from the heart and give smell to memories.” At the age of 12, he began to tend to his parents’ bakery, and work at neighboring restaurants, starting as a dishwasher (yes, at 12 years old), and working his way up the ranks to cook, and never looking back. “To this day, I consider myself a cook. I’m not into titles, and like every human being, we all have our history,” he continues to say.
Finding himself crossing the Atlantic over to the United States on Christmas Day 2007, “because that was the day that had the cheapest flights,” Christos landed in NYC, but not his luggage. Knowing little to no English, and also knowing little to nobody, he slept in Astoria Park his first night – and possibly was the coldest night of the year. A few hours later with a backpack filled with printed resumes, he found himself wandering up to a Greek-owned real estate office in the early hours on December 26, and finding perhaps, an angel. A man by the name of “Bobby” was there and offered his own basement apartment to Christos where he could plant his feet for a few months. Picking up the Daily News and looking at job advertisements, he cut out Burger King 2-for-1 coupons to fill his daily quota of lunch and dinner cravings, giving him only nutritional strength to go and apply from restaurant to restaurant. Bumping into rude and crude Greek owners, one specifically being ‘very annoyed’ that Christos came in to chat with him while he was eating his lunch, he was offered his first job by the late George Stergiopoulos, owner of Christos Steakhouse in Astoria. Warmly and sincerely welcomed in, Christos got his shot and after several months of hard work, he was offered a position at Edison Ballroom, which under mutual ownership, he worked on massive catering events, celebrity birthdays and galas.
“The goal for me was to cook nice food. All I can do is cook,” Christos states, however there was more to come, and the brakes were not going to be pressed anytime soon. Christos eventually landed as Chef de Cuisine at Eataly NYC Flatiron. Working there for four years and learning the art and love of Italian cooking and food hall operations, during his time there he also assisted with the opening Eataly Chicago and international locations. Years after, he found himself in skillful, high-pressure positions, including leading culinary and gourmet efforts under MINA Group for Locale Market, located in St. Petersburg, Florida which was the Group’s first entry into food hall operations.
In-between the years, Christos had several achievements including, being nominated for Michelin Star at The Greek (2014), being the First Greek Chef to cook at the White House (2013, by invitation from the White House Executive Chef) which also included cooking several times during the Obama administration and for the Annual United States Congress Dinner, was hand chosen by the late, great French Chef Alain Sailhac to teach a culinary class at the legendary De Gustibus Cooking School at Macy’s Herald Square (2018), participated and competed with head chefs in the International Gastronomic Festival in Athens (2007), and was a Consulting Chef of EL AL Airlines, Tel Aviv, Israel (2017).
“It was never about the fame. For me, wearing a chef jacket, it’s just a piece of cloth that I strongly dislike putting my name on. I believe the jacket does not make the chef. I feel extremely comfortable always wearing my short sleave dishwasher jacket. Because I started as one.”
It was a matter of time before he found himself back to what he loves the most — cooking Greek. Coming back full circle, 10 years later in 2017, he was hired as Executive Chef at Avra Madison, and soon after, launching Avra Beverly Hills in 2018, their first West Coast location. In 2019, Christos was tasked to open international seafood Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos – Hudson Yards. At $25 billion, the most expensive real-estate development in U.S. history, there he managed a 120-person brigade, curating an unparalleled culinary destination for the 230-seat dining room.
On the high of his life, what could go wrong? Towards the end of 2019 and early part of 2020, Christos was offered the opportunity and worked towards opening up his first restaurant which was called, ‘Egéo.’ Located on a bustling 31st street corner of Astoria, Queens, it was set to soft launch on March 25, 2020 in celebration of Greek Independence Day. With tons of press attention, social media buzz and high community anticipation, it didn’t happen. With the NYC shutdown, an onset of challenges due to the pandemic, plus, a “bad partnership,” Christos walked away in the Summer 2020 and leaving NYC entirely. Rethinking his path, he moved down to Miami spending the next two years opening MILĀ Miami and Carbone Miami, working as a personal chef in those ‘fancy’ condos in Miami Beach, hosting private dinners, and ultimately, rebranding and rebuilding his own path on his own terms.
In the Summer 2022, more than 800 days since what it felt like the entire world tried to force him off his entrepreneurial course, he created his own hospitality company, ‘The CB Concepts.’ Focusing on three cuisines including Greek (termed, Térpsi by Christos Bisiotis, in honor of his grandmother), Italian (named, LORA by Christos Bisiotis, inspired by his wife) and Israeli (called, Lox n’ Love), you will now find Christos’ doing what he loves, and what he does best – consulting restaurants, cooking and delivering incredible weekly meals (aka, CB Meals) throughout all of South Florida, catering for events, teaching culinary classes, executing personal chef services, and creating his own line of food products which is currently undergoing testing.
“I am coming to the conclusion that cooking can either keep you very focused or destroy you. After 22 years working in professional kitchens all over the world, I figured that it was about time to truly be me and do it all on my own. I am a one-man show and took my lessons from the past. I prep, I cook and do not have to answer to anyone other than the phone calls of my clients,” he unapologetically notes.
One of the biggest questions Christos gets asked is if he will ever be back in a restaurant. He states, “I do not have an answer to that because I was looking for it for so many years to have one. Maybe I will never have one, and I am ok with that. My focus is on the future of my kids, building opportunities for them and possibly seeing them continue what I am doing.”
With values based on family, tradition, faith, respect, hard work and relentlessness, it looks like Christos Bisiotis is just getting started.
For more information about Christos Bisiotis, you can visit www.christosbisiotis.com, and follow The CB Concepts on Instagram, www.instagram.com/thecbconcepts, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/thecbconceptsSoFlo