Once upon a time in Miami.
10th August. I am at my house in Rethymno, Crete. I have just returned, after a difficult day at the restaurant, since we are in the middle of the season. Tired, more psychologically than physically, I drink some raki….
Looking at my cellphone, I notice a message from chef Dimitrios Pyliotis. I open it and I read about prizes, a restaurant in America, contests in Miami, famous chefs, Kalamata and a totally different, or even better, totally appealing proposal…. <<Timoleon, we would like you to participate and share your travel experience and your special technique on shrimps ” the fried brain”, so as to become a team and the Greek participants to win once more>>.
To tell you the truth, I was nervous at first, but that’s how it is when you are excited. I don’t answer. I try to learn everything about the chef and if all these are really true. I am lost in my thoughts during the whole night…. How am I going to? What am I going to meet? Is he a good man? It was a big journey after all!
Thinking about the statement “Travel! Money comes back, time doesn’t!”, I reply to him the next morning. The only thing that concerns me is the date of my arrival to America, as I have already planned festivals in Pelion, events in Thessaloniki, a trip in Sweden, a job in Finland and all these in a short period of time. I mention this, so that I can explain how difficult it is to take part in the finals of a contest, when having such limited time that you cannot think clearly.
Time goes by and it’s time for the biggest trip of my life and another contest.
Arriving in Miami and getting off the airplane, I felt nice and I thought that it was going to be an unforgettable experience! In fact, Dimitris and his brother Vasilis, cordially welcomed me at the airport. I can truly say that you can feel a person’s character by the first time!
While going to the hotel, I didn’t talk much. I was looking around the buildings, the lights, the traffic… I felt like a movie star.
The first thing we did, was to stroll around Cuban districts and the next 16 days were amazing. While I was strolling around, working, meeting many different people and having fun I was thinking about the contest that we should win….as we finally did! Dimitris has won the contest for the fourth time and I was proud of helping him. However, the most important was the two real, new friends that I had already made. Dimitris and Vasilis.
We won the contest with a very surreal dish, but I have also learned something more. The technique that I used for the shrimps in the American contest, had already been used in Greece too, but some chefs laughed at me!
That’s what people say “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”!