Chef Perse Vordokas Believes Do Better To Be Better
Meet Chef Perse Vordokas. Chef Vordokas recently arrived in Telluride, Colorado to take on the role of the Executive Chef at The View Restaurant, a sixty-seat, full-service restaurant in beautiful Mountain Lodge Telluride. She is proudly serving a new menu influenced by her Latin American and Mediterranean upbringing. I met with Perse this past summer and had a talk about the path she has walked in the Food & Beverage Industry prior to her arrival in Telluride, Colorado.
Business Degree to Culinarian
Born and raised in Miami, Perse is of Greek descent and was fortunate to have each of her summers in Greece with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The Latin culture she grew up with in Miami along with the Mediterranean influence of her family’s cooking resulted in a nice marriage of the cultures that has contributed to her rise as a Chef.
“I was raised in a home where my mother cooked everything. There was never a need to go into the kitchen for anything. I was close to finishing my business degree when one day while eating dinner with my family I announced that I was going to finish my degree and start a Catering business. My mom almost choked. She asked me, “What are you going to cook? I announced I am going to cook Greek food and cook in people’s homes for dinner parties. Fast Forward a month later, a friend asked me to Cater a Greek Easter Brunch. My mom kept asking me how many people I was cooking for. I was studying the recipes and told her I was good. I needed to make food for 20 people but I think I made enough for 100 people. I continued with that business. I was inspired to craft something that was missing from the local restaurant scene because I traveled so often to Europe, I noticed there weren’t many places to get delicious small bites to eat or grab a delicious coffee.”
You don’t have to go to Culinary School to be an excellent Chef
“During that time with my catering business, I was also working in the retail industry but decided to become a server. I found that I was always in the kitchen watching what the staff was doing. If they were short in the kitchen I would drop in and help. I would plate salad and drop food in the fryer. I wanted to help get food out and be sure our guests were getting the best service possible. I was always hanging out in the kitchen taking mental notes and learning. I then took on a Prep cook position after learning how the front of the house operated. Soon after, I became a Savory Chef in a Bakery that could do breakfast and lunch. I enjoyed the work but realized I was still so green in the Culinary industry. I needed to get out and work in another kitchen. Learned an appreciation for food restaurants to learn more from their chefs in order to excel.”
Welcomed in the Kitchen
“As a woman, I always felt welcome in the kitchen. I have worked for some incredible Chefs, some had temperaments, and some didn’t. You can have a nice knife and apron but it always boils down to your skills. My mind was open and I was always willing to learn. I would always take the apron off and do the dirty work and wasn’t afraid to admit failure and ask for someone to show me how to do a task but if I was drowning to ask someone to help me. People welcomed me in the back of the house as well as the front. Everyone has to prove their stripes but I have always felt welcome in the restaurant community.”
Crafting Food and A Philosophy
“There are always better ways of doing things than what I know. My philosophy in the kitchen is “if you can do it better, then do it. If you have a recipe from your grandmother that you think is fantastic, do it. If you know of something you have learned at home in your kitchen and can bring it to the restaurant, then do it. We can all learn from each other; if it doesn’t work, it’s not failure but a learning lesson with an opportunity to do it a new way. I learned if you start a position being very humble, starting from scratch and being a sponge, you will excel anywhere.”
“There is very little room for error in simplicity. It’s much harder to get something really good that is straightforward and simple than something that is covered in a sauce where your mistakes can be hidden. I always get the question: What is your favorite thing to cook? I love preparing fresh salads and vegetables. Freshly prepared vegetables and salads don’t get the attention that they need. Do you remember the taste of a good tomato, strawberry, or fresh peach? It is so satisfying. When you experience that at a restaurant, it’s memorable.”
Since her arrival, everything has fallen into place, from the selection of her Sous Chef, Isaiah Davis-Toledo, to her line staff, and the opportunities to craft new menus and community events, Chef Vordokas continues to be her best and raise everyone up with her successes by doing better and being better. Enjoy a great meal by making a reservation at The View Restaurant to experience her delightful culinary creations.
by Holly GoSpritely
Copyright ©2023 Mountain Women Magazine and MTN Town Media Productions all rights reserved.
Post Sponsored by Montanya Distillers