“I love cooking because I love to get my hands dirty, burn myself, and get scars,” Giannakis said with a smile. “I am a hands iron chef.”
His culinary obsession led him to work in prestigious restaurants like AVRA Restaurant, Rao’s Restaurant, SanSa Cafe & Restaurant, and with chefs like David Burke at Park Avenue Cafe and Bobby Flay. In 2003, Time Out Magazine featured an article on his dishes.
Born and raised in Bayside, Giannakis grew up with his dad’s advice about trying to make money with a suit and tie instead of working with his hands. So he went to Queens College and studied finance and marketing, but his passion for cooking grew stronger and stronger, which led him to go to Culinary Institute of America for his graduate degree in 2000. He later joined the Syosset Culinary Academy in Long Island as a culinary instructor.
“I brought with me all this business knowledge about how to properly market menus, ideas and even market myself,” said Giannakis.
In 2009, Giannakis decided to take the position of supervisor chef for Mets VIP lounge at Citi Field. In 2011, he was named executive chef at New York University and in charge of serving 10,000 to 15,000 students per day in four different residential halls.
“At NYU, I had to make sure that we followed strict nutritional guidelines, giving proper portions, as well as nutritional facts,” said Giannakis.
From stadium cooking to college cooking, it became more of a corporate job for Giannakis than he wanted to be. He was not cook anymore, instead delegating foods. He felt he had lost touch with his passion.
“I love being in the kitchen, and I am not one who likes to sit down with the clipboard,” said Giannakis. “I realized I needed to get back into the kitchen and cook, cut, chop, and fry.”
So, when longtime family friend Andrew Moshopoulos asked him to become a partner of Metro Kitchen three months ago, Giannakis gladly took the opportunity. He hopes to take Metro Kitchen to another level with trendy style and elegant dishes.
“I had to jump at the opportunity that allows me back into the kitchen where I can do the cooking, take the dinner to a next level, and serve beautiful plates,” he said.
Giannakis’s future plan is to create his own little market on Long Island, where people can experience great food at a great price.
“I want bring a new approach to food on Long Island that people have not seen before,” he said.
While designing a chicken salad plate, Giannakis compared his work with the entertainment business. Everyday he puts on the show at lunch and dinner, and as the curtain goes up he orchestrates his kitchen crew.
“It is like a dance show, where if we do it right and entertain people they will want to come back again for another entertaining evening,” said Giannakis.