Delta – The Greek restaurant that got 2 Michelin stars in its first year!

By 5 months ago

The iconic Delta at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) welcomed guests for the first time in July 2021, while in September 2022 it was awarded by the international Michelin guide with two stars of haute cuisine and a green star of sustainability, distinctions that few restaurants in the world have managed to acquire just one year from the start of their operation. Thus, it entered the elite of the top fine dining destinations, turning the spotlight of global culinary interest on Greece.

Such excellences are not achieved by accident. It is the result of grand ventures with clear beliefs, goals and an implementation plan. With the SNFCC, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has realized its vision of creating a "world-class public space" that will be "a model of environmental sustainability in terms of design, construction, operation and footprint in the wider ecosystem". Delta not only aligns with this vision but complements it.

Culture, gastronomy and sustainability inspired his name, with each peak of the triangular-shaped fourth letter of the Greek alphabet representing one of these principles. They were also turned into pillars on which his architecture was designed,

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation created Delta with its own initiative and donation but entrusted its construction and operation to the experienced hands of Deipnosofistiriou, one of the most innovative catering companies in Greece.

"Delta was a challenge for us but also for Greece itself. We set the bar high, pursuing international awards and knowing that, when they come, they will increase the prospects of our country becoming a destination of high gastronomy," Dimitris Christofileas, one of the four owners of Deipnosofistiriou, said to New Money.

Behind these important distinctions are the talented chefs Giorgos Papazacharias and Thanos Fescos. The two met in Denmark and became friends very quickly. Then Thanos worked at the three-star Michelin restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen and George at the equally three-star Maaemo in Oslo.

In Scandinavia, they gained valuable knowledge in innovative cooking techniques, while their credits include several more experiences in famous restaurants. Abroad, they often talked about returning to Greece and Delta was the perfect reason to make their talks a reality.

At the restaurant, they share the position of head chef with George in charge of menu research and development and Thanos in charge of running and organising the kitchen. From the beginning, their goal was the international promotion and awarding of the restaurant.

"It's a kind of championship we do," Thanos said, smiling. With several gold stars under their belts, clear goals and absolute dedication, they soon earned the stars of the Michelin guide for the practical emphasis they place on sustainability and the monumental culinary experience they give Delta's guests.

The menu design is inspired by the culture, history and natural wealth of Greece. Emphasis is placed on research, the development of deep knowledge and respect for the use of raw materials, so as to avoid waste.

"We don't use strange materials. Maybe some, like pine needles, are not common. But the simple things in nature are also the strangest," says George.

The use of product preservation techniques, such as those of fermentation and pickling, is also widespread, while particular importance is also given to composting, according to which materials that cannot be used in any preparation of the restaurant are turned into fertilizer or animal feed.

Their horticultural and livestock products are organic and come from the more than thirty acre farm they work with in Markopoulos as well as from small local producers while meticulously selected fishermen and divers satisfy their needs in marine treasures.

Every aspect of the restaurant's operation, even the separation of chefs' responsibilities, contributes to sustainability.

"Having all the tasks done by a single chef is knowledgeably possible but humanly unsustainable," said Thanos. "For us, the lives of the children who work here are of greater value than the dish we have prepared."

Thus, they have established a five-day work and a fortnight holiday period in January and summer while, to avoid the pressure of a wholesale menu change, the dishes change gradually.

The menu, moreover, consists of monothematic dishes, so modifications are not prohibitive in terms of thematic sequence.

The twelve-course omnivore menu that New Money tasted was presented with impeccable professionalism and at the same time a welcoming attitude, intertwined with Greek culture, by the commendable hall staff.

The aesthetic and taste journeys of the menu pass through the rich paths of the Greek nature and drop anchor in bays with crystal clear sea waters of our country.

Our meal opened with an elegant citrus-cured shrimp with fermented pomegranate and cream from its head while the succulent lobster claw – a dish of exquisite complexity – made its flamboyant appearance on an elegant rock.

Its outer skin was made of charcoal-grilled lotus, and inside it hid lobster that was steamed and drizzled with a wild garlic glaze, while a small amount of goji butter was incorporated into the mix.

A number of beautifully tantalizing concoctions followed, including sea anemone with citrus bread and aged fish roe, glazed with last year's salted fruit and vegetables, and pork loin flavored with fermented grain.

The lightly charred oyster with a creamy aged citrus sauce and fresh but fermented garlic flower was also amazing, inside the shell of which we may not have found a pearl but we discovered a strong sea dew.

Cod is a serious contender for the top spot in our preferences. Delta's epically delicious signature creation masterfully combines a sensual stroll through the streets of Athens with the gentle breeze of the Aegean.

It is simmered in oil from mint leaves and served with carrot pepper, which hides inside grilled mussels glazed with caramelized wild garlic butter, and exuberant spinach salad and oil from the plum kernel found on the plate.

"There is no reason to import citrus fruits from other countries when on the streets of our city there is a leaf like that of the orange tree which I consider to be standing next to some of the best citrus fruits in the world," George tells me earnestly.

Also impressive is the attractive sunflower, a landmark dish for Delta. It made its appearance as a small flower on the restaurant's original menu, while today, in its third version, it has evolved into a very special plant with petals made of pickled leeks, a head of caviar and figs, leaves of scallion that protectively cover a fillet of tongue flavored with mint and mastic and fermented rhubarb juice sauce.

The scarlet and sea buckthorn-scented poppy with caramelized butter mousse and aged hazelnut toffee and the beautiful butterfly with pollen cream and sour milk ice cream of this year's must that flew to our table announced the end of the exquisite dinner.

In the immediate plans of the chefs is the increase of the stages of the menus from twelve to fifteen, both for the omnivore dinner and for the vegetarian and vegan ones.

The memorable culinary experience of around three hours can be accompanied by juice-pairing or wine-pairing – simple as well as premium. Of course, there is also the option of choosing a bottle of wine from Delta's impressive wine cellar, curated by Aris Sklavenitis and Telemachos Papandreas.

In the simple wine-pairing, the combinations go well with the flavours of the dishes, while in the premium, highly valuable wines figure in, among them Chateau d'Yquem and Azienda Agricola San Polino.

Food undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in the development of a country as well as in how it is presented internationally. Delta proudly and with great success fulfills the position of honorary ambassador of Greece.

It passionately promotes our natural and cultural wealth, while offering us a new perspective on exploiting the "hidden" treasures of our flora and fauna. So we have rightly enjoyed his awards and look forward to his new and even more important accolades.

SNFCC, National Opera Building, 364 Andreas Syggrou Avenue, Athens,
tel. 698 6657 553

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Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022
Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022