Executive Chef / Owner, Yefsi Estiatorio
Born and raised on a farm in Cyprus, Christos Christou’s passion for cooking began early. By the age of thirteen he was preparing meals for his brother and sister using recipes handed down from his mother and grandmother, and at eighteen he was cooking in his parent’s tiny restaurant. Though he would go on to try his hand at other professions, it was the pleasure of cooking food of his childhood that remained his greatest joy. Today, it is this tradition that he brings to Yefsi.
After cooking at his parent’s restaurant, Kaliva (Greek for “Little House”), in 1986 Christou was drafted into the Grecian army where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant and served for 29 months. After his tour of duty concluded, he joined the Cypriot police force, but resigned after one year. In 1989, seeking new opportunities, Christou joined his brother in New York City.
Christou’s first job in New York was working as a delivery boy for Italian restaurant, Steve’s. The restaurant was actually owned by a Greek woman who offered to train him as a cook and was surprised to find that he already knew his way around a kitchen, albeit specializing in Pastitsio rather than Pasta Puttanesca. Desiring more classic culinary training, Christou enrolled in The French Culinary Institute. Upon graduation in 1997, he was asked to stay on as an Assistant Chef at L’École, the restaurant that serves as the training ground for FCI students. During this time, Christou had the opportunity to further broaden his education and sharpen his skills by working alongside masters such as Jacques Pépin and André Soltner. Though by now proficient in French culinary technique, Christou’s “family meals” for staff were always Greek and always popular.
In 1997, Christou decided to return to his Greek culinary roots, accepting a position as a Sous Chef to open Molyvos with John Livanos and Rick Mooney. During his tenure there the restaurant, he earned three stars from Ruth Raichel of The New York Times. Subsequently, Christou served as Executive Sous Chef at Manhattan’s Estiatorio Milos, but was promoted to Executive Chef within six months. Christou moved on to Upper East Side Greek restaurant Trata in 1999 as Chef under Owner/Executive Chef Gregory Zapantis. Following great success at Trata, co-owners Richard Wolf and Marc Packer opened Avra, installing Christou as Executive Chef. Though his cooking was greeted with great critical acclaim, Christou preferred a more intimate connection with his guests and asked to be restored as Trata’s Executive Chef.
Cooking for Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise, Alpa Cino and Robert De Niro and many more were just one of the many perks of his culinary excellence. He also held various important dinners multiple times for the Prime Minister of Greece, President of Cyprus and the 8th Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Kimoon. Not to mention, he is the official Chef of the Greek and Cypriot Embassy in New York.
Do a cook-a-long with Chef Christos here and make the best authentic Greek stuffed Tomatoes-Gemista!