It's the end of the 80s, just before Easter in a middle-class house in Thessaloniki, when a 5-year-old boy enters the kitchen where his grandmother prepares tsourekia - the little Georgios, now known as Akis Petretzikis, is fascinated by the smell left by the mastic and he doesn't take his eyes off the tsourekia.
Years later, this memory still accompanies the most commercially talented chef of his generation, even if, after several triumphs, he has been experiencing a business "Waterloo" in the last few days that he is certainly not used to.
The lock on Kitchen Lab's company after five years of operation is undoubtedly a blow to the success story of the highly-acclaimed chef.
He emerged as the winner of the first Greek Master Chef in 2010 and developed into a highly commercial brand name with his own TV shows, dozens of collaborations and sponsorships.
"I remember sneaking into the kitchen while my grandmother was kneading tsourekia and watching her," he said in an interview he gave three years ago, pointing out: "Of course, then I kneaded them. No one could resist these tsourekia."
Until the age of 16, he worked in the family business and, apart from cooking, he is passionate about photography and dreams of traveling.
In 2002, he goes down to Athens, not to pursue his passion, but to study Accounting at the TEI of Athens, something that doesn't drive him crazy.
He is 18 years old, he goes out a lot, he hangs out but he is not dying to learn "what computers and numbers say" so four years later he starts taking courses at Le Monde, while at the same time he is a qualified accountant, since his opinion is that when you start something you have to finish it.
He probably hasn't forgotten the summer of 2004, when one morning he got off the ship at the port of Mykonos and was bathed in the blinding white of the Chora's houses.
Except that he has not gone on vacation, but to cook professionally now, since he works all season as a chef at the Mykonian Ambassador Relais & Chateau and in September returns to Athens to work in a restaurant in the city.
In February 2005, he dives into the hotel kitchens in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, and as soon as the summer ends, he sets the menu at the James Joyce pub in Athens. He knows that he will never be an accountant anymore because he carries this creative madness of a talented cook and not the cold mentality of an accountant.
Akis will find them in England, where he moves to work away from the safe environment of Greece with any acquaintances and is initially hired at the "Havana" restaurant in Brighton.
This is followed by the hotel "Goring" where he cooks as Chef de Partie for two years - from 2008 to 2010 - when he returns to Greece to take part in the first Greek Master Chef.
He will quickly stand out together with Yiannis Apostolakis whom he will defeat in a dramatic final. Since then his journey will be dizzying.
The dizzying course
"Cooking is my life," he has said, adding in an interview he granted to Lifo: "I have made my dream come true by preserving elements of my character, which could easily have been altered."
Some may disagree with his words, but his crazy success story didn't leave much room for doubt, since very quickly the young chef was being talked about everywhere.
His appearance on TV was just the beginning for the most commercial and digestible chef, as his own YouTube channel is coming very soon.
He loved social media and they loved him too, using it a lot, while women drink water to his name for the recipes he uploads, which are easy to make.
Kitchen Lab's online show sweeps, like all his TV projects like "Do it like Akis", "A suitcase of tastes" etc.
Inevitably, the shops will also come, Kitchen Lab and Burger Ap. He worked with four people and commands a brigade of one 152 people.
He will remain a charming bachelor until 2020, when he meets Konstantina Papamichael who will give him a son and a daughter, who will ideally complement the couple's happiness.
The collaborations follow one another, just like the sponsorships for a highly commercial chef who, speaking about his life, pointed out: "I did what I love as a profession. There is no greater thing than this. Ok, it's not all rosy, there are days when I whine..."
The last few days are seemingly not so good, since after five years of operation, Kitchen Lab rolled down its shutters and its stores closed, proving that no matter how much talent you have, there will come a time when you will burn the food.
Perhaps for another creation, since his new venture is called "Akis Petretzikis Hub", a company based in the municipality of Pallini that was founded a month ago, with a share capital of 530,000 euros and the object of which is television productions...
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