George Mavrothalassistis

Steve Murray
Wednesday - February 22, 2006
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George Mavrothalassistis

If Chef George Mavrothalassitis does not think of himself as a celebrity, he’s just about the only one. Since opening the restaurant that bears his abbreviated name in 1998, Chef Mavro has been one of the leaders in bringing international attention to Hawaii cuisine. And now the man who can boast, though he won’t, an array of awards from the James Beard Foundation to being named one of America’s top six chefs by Wine Spectator for his mastery in pairing food and wine, Chef Mavro, the restaurant, has recently been named by Fodor 2006 as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. Pretty heavy stuff.

“It was totally out of the blue,” says the chef, who appeared on MidWeek’s cover in October 1992, when he was cooking at La Mer. “We had no idea where this is coming from. Humbly, to be one of the 10 best restaurants in the world is a little exaggerated, but I’ll take it, and I’m very proud.”

The restaurant business is tough. The competition is great, and you have to stay on top of flavor and dietary trends because if you don’t, someone else will. Mavro - pictured here with Chef de Cuisine Kevin Chong (left) and Sous Chef de Cuisine Nolan West - says you can’t go at it alone.

“The restaurant has my name on it, but I’m not the only one in the kitchen. We are a team. I have very young cooks with me and they’re very talented. We all work together, and we want to get better and better and better.”

Mavro says the goal of the restaurant is not in gathering awards or making a steam kettle-full of money, but to establish a business that will even outlast himself.

“It’s a very French approach to business,” he says of restaurants that last not only over several generations but centuries as well. “One of the most successful restaurants in France is Troisgros in Roanne. The restaurant has been there for four generations. The La Tour D’argent in Paris has been there for centuries. It’s crazy.”

As impressive as it sounds to garner the industry’s biggest awards on a consistent basis, it’s not the biggest present the chef from Marseilles has received in the last year. That honor would belong to granddaughter Frida.

“Of course she’s the most beautiful baby in the world,” says the chef with a laugh, knowing he sounds just like every other proud grandpa in the world.

There is no question that Chef Mavro is a success, but as far as being a celebrity, he’s not buying it.

“I don’t feel like I’m a celebrity. If some chefs think they are a movie star, they are making a big mistake.”

Who’s to argue?

- Steve Murray

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