While Epocha restaurant owner Angie Giannakodakis has made the finals of The Age Good Food Guide 2015 awards, George Calombaris’ former floor manager says the bespoke awards should be looking for younger sommeliers to celebrate.
Angie (44) is in the running for Sommelier of the Year but told Neos Kosmos: “I’m a bit too old for this now to tell you the truth.”
Having left Melbourne for Athens as a 19-year-old, Giannakodakis worked in the Greek capital for 12 years before returning to Australia in 2003.
With her sommelier skills fine-tuned in Greece, a call to George Calombaris saw her take the front-of-house helm of his flagship restaurant The Press Club three years later.
“I was a sommelier in Greece and then worked in that role up to 2005, but since then I’ve been a restaurant manager and restaurateur,” says Angie.
“The Age nomination is fantastic to get; I love to sell wine, but there are young people out there who are brilliant, and it’s their turn.”
According to Angie, what makes an award-winning sommelier is more than showing good product knowledge. “It’s knowing what the customer needs – taking them on a journey, because dining is escapism and wine is part of that process. You need to make them travel with you.”
A tireless advocate of fine Greek wines, Angie says Australian consumers are keener than ever to try less-well known producers, though distribution remains the problem.
“People want something different now. I’ll always promote Greek wine, it’s a reflection of our culture and our ability to make subtle wines.”
Epocha – the much-admired Carlton restaurant she created with co-owner Guy Holder – is now in its second year.
Angie and her team, including floor manager Disa Dimitrakakis, launch their latest venture in Camberwell next week, a Cretan-influenced wine bar and diner – Elyros – at 871 Burke Road.
Named in honour of Dimitrakakis’ mother’s village in Crete’s south-west, Elyros’ menu will serve dishes inspired by the “sustainable, pure, wholesome and fierce” food of the island, says Angie.
While the wine bar will offer mezedes, cheese plates, the marble-lined 60-seat dining room will present a la carte and tasting menus from Michelin-trained Athenian chef Yiannis Kasidokostas.
Customers can expect a new take on regional Cretan cuisine, a celebration of seasonal produce, and Giannakodakis’ hallmark ‘cared for’ experience.
Elyros opens on September 3. The Age Good Food Guide 2015 award winners will be announced on August 25.