Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
- 40 Apollonos Street, Vouliagmeni, Athens, 16671, Greece
Director of Food and Beverage
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2010
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Sous Chef, Four Seasons Hotel Beirut
- Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre; Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo; Four Seasons Hotel Beirut; W Retreat & Spa Maldives
- Athens, Greece
- Bachelor’s Degree, Gastronomy & Restaurant Management, Institut Paul Bocuse, Écully, France
- Greek, English, French
Sotiris Ananiadis has been all through the kitchen and all over the world for Four Seasons. Now he’s thrilled to be back home again as Food and Beverage Director of Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens.
“I got my start in Astir Palace as an apprentice when I was just 15,” he recalls of the historic seaside property that now counts nine restaurants and lounges, pool and beach service, and 23,000 square metres (250,000 square feet) of banquet-ready function space. Combined, the Hotel has one of the most dynamic food-and-beverage operations in the company. So how does that play out for Sotiris? “Overall, I’d have to say, it’s truly exciting to be part of something so special and highly anticipated.”
Sotiris oversees a team of 370 between the front-of-the-house, kitchen and banqueting. Together, they have developed strong concepts, and everyone contributes to shaping the experience.
He points to creative touches such as the house-distilled gin for Negronis in guest room minibars; a trolley for making coffee tableside at the Greek seafood restaurant Pelagos; and the pizza station set on the balcony of the Italian outlet Mercato. “All of those touches came from our brainstorming. We’ve been entrusted with room to create. It’s beautiful!”
In his eighth year with Four Seasons when appointed to his opening role in Athens, Sotiris long ago recognised the transformation of hotel food and beverage from service to spectacle. Restaurants used to be part of the backbone of a property, he notes. “Now they’re freestanding with their own managers. Each of our restaurants and bars has a unique identity; it’s my job is to see that those identities shine through to our guests.”
Authenticity is key to that. Searching for implements to create tableside guacamole service at the Latin American restaurant Helios, for instance, Sotiris went to great lengths to track down a supplier in Texas who imports molcajete – the mortar and pestle used to mash avocados – from a small market maker in Mexico. “What we got is the real deal.”
Such sourcing may have been a major endeavour, but the results were worth it. “I won’t lie: It wasn’t easy. We had so much equipment and products to find. But that’s part of the creative process. It was extremely fulfilling.”
Sotiris was destined for a culinary career from a young age. He started out working weekends as a pot washer in the kitchen of his father’s catering business in Athens, and later joined the Greek Navy to spend his mandatory military service cooking at sea.
After relocating to France at age 21, things really took off, with a degree from Institut Paul Bocuse, work at Michelin-starred restaurants, and, eventually, an assignment as executive sous chef at a luxury resort in Maldives.
He joined Four Seasons in the same position in Beirut in 2010. Soon enough, Sotiris went on to become Executive Chef in Tokyo, only to return to his beloved Lebanon for a second term. It was then that the Hotel’s General Manager pulled him aside to suggest that his future might better lie in food-and-beverage management. “He told me, ‘you’re a smart kid – have you ever thought of wearing a suit?’”
A couple of years later, Sotiris joined the opening team of Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre as Food and Beverage Manager. What drew him was the idea of creating memories and experiences from service and atmosphere as well as the items on the menu.
Now happy back in Athens, Sotiris is quick to share credit for his contributions to Astir Palace with his “F&B Dream Team.” Almost all are from Greece, but Greek diaspora from around the world have returned to the homeland to be part of the historic project.
“All together, they’re amazing people – so passionate and creative,” he says. “When Four Seasons lands in a new country, it looks for people who share the same drive for excellence. It’s been very exciting to see them develop, grow, and embrace what we’re doing here.”