The man, who has spent over thirty years in Belgium with countless back-and-forth visits to his home country, takes a moment to give us his thoughts on our capital city. As far as restaurant owners go, Constantin is unquestionably second to none. Well-trained businessman, the best ambassador of Greek cuisine worldwide is obsessed with culture and gastronomy and has obviously evolved over the years.
Newly graduated sociologist, he lands up in Bruges in 1982 where he takes on a post-graduate degree in European Institutions. For ten years he works in the very heart of Brussels at the European Commission within the department of agriculture and rural development.
At the age of 36, he is in dire need of change and devotes himself to extensive research on Mediterranean cuisine and eating habits. He is quite taken by Hippocrates’ famous saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. After attending a training course in biodynamic farming in Lyon, he is more than ever determined to bring the small honest producer and good food loving consumer together.
True to his Hellenic roots, he visits Mount Athos on several occasions and spends time with monks complying with their extremely austere lifestyle. He gets inspired by their frugality and spirituality. Not surprisingly, the importance of vegetarian food emerges once again.
What has brought you to open your own restaurant?
- My cooking was in the first place a way to draw attention to organic products. I believe we need more deeds and fewer words.
Why did you settle in Brussels?
- I often feel a surge of happiness to be living in Brussels. Belgium is a small country and does not have the willingness – unlike certain neighbouring countries (I shall not mention any names) – to measure everything by the same standards.
Do you mean to confine Greek cuisine to a few touristic specialties, faulty holiday reminiscences with a Belgian twist?
- Yes indeed. Notos stands for simplicity and authenticity. We take pride in serving tasty, delicate and genuine traditional Greek dishes. I never would have dared taking on this challenge in any other city. What I love about Brussels is that every effort is made for its inhabitants to live in peace and harmony. And of course, I want my guests to discover the Greek products that I love and of which I have fond memories. I pour all my energy in finding and preparing the right ingredients. I also called upon the help of my family and picked up recipes from my mother and from my grandmother. Through my restaurant I have met a lot of people. Because, let’s face it, you can live in Brussels and sometimes not come across a single Belgian. Each nationality has its ghetto. There is therefore nothing like being open to others in my restaurant – or is there?
If you had to sum up your philosophy in three words after all these years spent in Brussels...
- I would go for fresh, tasty and authentic. Brussels is so beautiful, so genuine and so full of flavours... a city that is open to other cultures.
rue de Livourne 154 Livornostraat
T. +32 (0)2 513 29 59
Pictures © Kris Vlegels