Yiannis Diamantidis: At Nimbus Hotels Greek flavors meet creative culinary delights

In an interview with Chef Yiannis Diamantidis of Nimbus Hotel Group, he shares his journey from a family kitchen, to becoming a culinary innovator. Specializing in Greek creative cuisine, Chef Yiannis combines traditional Greek flavors with modern techniques. He integrates local produce into his dishes and reimagines international favorites like tacos and bao buns with a Greek twist. Yiannis Diamantidis emphasizes the importance of authentic flavors, high-quality ingredients, and creating memorable dining experiences that reflect the rich culinary heritage of Greece.

Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you became a chef?

My culinary journey began in my family’s kitchen. I grew up surrounded by the rich flavors and aromas of Greek cuisine, and I always knew I wanted to be a chef.

I was born and raised in the city of Veria. I studied at the Delta School of Thessaloniki 13 years ago, and since then, I started my professional journey, passing through different kitchens of the country. I have worked in taverns, bistros, and restaurants offering Greek traditional and creative cuisine, in hotels both small and large, in Veria, Corfu, Crete, Khalkidhiki, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini. This year, I am for one more year with Nimbus Hotels.

How would you describe your culinary style, particularly your approach to Greek creative cuisine?

My culinary style is traditional Greek flavors with contemporary presentation and techniques. I focus on fresh, local ingredients, which are the heart of Greek cuisine, and I enjoy experimenting with new ways to present these flavors. My dishes are designed to be both visually stunning and full of robust, authentic tastes. Even when I incorporate international elements like tacos, bao buns, or noodles, I infuse them with Greek flavors to create a unique and memorable dining experience.

Your approach is quite innovative. Can you share some examples of how you incorporate Greek flavors into internationally recognized dishes?

Absolutely. Take tacos, for instance. I might use a slow-cooked pork, seasoned with Greek herbs like oregano and thyme, and then top it with a tzatziki-inspired sauce instead of the traditional salsa. For bao buns, I could fill them with Greek wild mushrooms, herbs mayo, and Greek smoked chees. These dishes honor both their origins and the Greek flavors I hold dear.

Those sound delicious and unique. What inspires you when creating new dishes?

Inspiration comes from many sources, like the vibrant colors and textures of the local produce, the stories behind traditional Greek recipes, and the natural beauty of Mykonos and Santorini. I also draw inspiration from my travels and the culinary techniques I’ve learned along the way. Ultimately, I aim to create dishes that evoke emotions and tell a story, connecting our guests to the rich culinary heritage of Greece while offering them something fresh and exciting.

How important is local produce to your cooking, and how do you source your ingredients?

Local produce is absolutely essential to my cooking. The flavors of fresh, seasonal ingredients are unparalleled, and they form the backbone of my dishes. We work closely with local farmers, fishermen, and artisans to ensure we get the best quality ingredients. This not only supports the local economy but also allows us to offer our guests an authentic taste of the region. Whether it’s the tomatoes from a nearby farm or the freshest catch of the day, these ingredients make all the difference in our cuisine.

Your dishes seem to beautifully blend tradition and innovation. How do you balance these two elements in your cooking?

It’s all about respecting the essence of traditional Greek cuisine while being open to experimentation. I start with the foundation of traditional recipes and ingredients, then think about how I can elevate them through modern techniques and presentation. It’s a balance of staying true to our culinary heritage and pushing the boundaries to surprise and delight our guests. The key is to ensure that, no matter how innovative the dish, the flavors remain authentically Greek.

What are some of the challenges you face when creating such innovative dishes, and how do you overcome them?

One of the main challenges is maintaining the authenticity of Greek flavors while incorporating modern elements. It’s easy to get carried away with techniques and presentations, but the flavor must always come first. Another challenge is sourcing ingredients that meet our high standards, especially when experimenting with new dishes. To overcome these challenges, we continuously test and refine our recipes, and we stay connected with our local suppliers to ensure we have the freshest and highest quality ingredients available.

How do you think your cuisine influences the overall guest experience at Nimbus Hotel Group?

Food is such an integral part of the travel experience. At Nimbus Hotel Group, we aim to offer more than just a meal, we provide a culinary journey that enhances our guests’ overall experience. By presenting dishes that are both familiar and surprising, we create memorable dining moments that reflect the beauty and richness of Mykonos and Santorini. Our guests often tell us that our cuisine is one of the highlights of their stay, which is incredibly rewarding.

What do you hope guests take away from dining at Nimbus Hotel Group?

I hope our guests leave with a deeper appreciation for Greek cuisine and its versatility. I want them to remember the bold flavors, the beautiful presentations, and the warm hospitality that are at the heart of our dining experience. Ultimately, I want them to feel a connection to the culture and traditions of Greece, and to carry those memories with them long after they’ve left our beautiful islands. I look forward to welcoming guests to our tables and continuing to create unforgettable dining experiences.