Featuring Georgios Alexiou
Head Chef, The Tollhouse, Edinburgh
How long have you been a chef?
I was late to start by the usual standards. I am in kitchens since I was 21, so 16 years now, 7 of them here in Edinburgh.
Why did you become a chef?
It started by accident. I was searching for a job of any type and a friend asked me to help him at his restaurant. I fell in love with cooking and the rest is history.
Has to be olive oil! I couldn’t chose anything else. I love using olive oil everywhere. From savoury food to desserts, a good olive oil can save the day.
Favourite or signature dish
It might come as a surprise, but I can make a really good pizza! Only friends know that. At my job I love cooking meat of any type, usually underrated cuts.
Favourite kitchen tool or equipment (apart from sharp knives)
Whoever knows me knows that I cannot work if I don’t have on me my wee pallet knife. If I lose it I am done, probably I will walk out of the kitchen.
I don’t really have any, cause I believe everyone is unique and different, shaping his own path. I do admire some chefs, but what got me into cooking are the memories getting crafted over a meal around a table. There’s always good food involved in good memories.
Any food you can’t/won’t eat
I can’t eat raisins and tahini. The list was bigger, but I gave second chances to a lot of ingredients. I used to dislike aubergine, now it’s my favourite vegetable.
Comfort food/guilty secret
Hands down: burgers, fries and cookie dough ice cream.
If I’m going out to eat, and I can’t get a table at your place, where should I go?
My favourite place in Edinburgh is Aizle, relaxing atmosphere, really deep flavours. I have to say though, if you want to see where I am coming from, you should go to Spitaki, really good Greek food and lovely atmosphere.
Stupidest customer or kitchen experience
It’s not uncommon, but any customer that is rude to the waiters. I strongly believe that the way you speak to a waiter shows your character. I have had some customers being rude, or even worse, mocking a waiter’s accent cause he was a foreigner.
Georgios is head chef at The Tollhouse, overlooking the Water of Leith in the Canonmills district of Edinburgh. It's the third and latest restaurant in the Dine group, owned by Stuart Muir and Paul Brennan. Opened only in October, it scored a whopping 23.5/25 in Tom Eats!