Nick Karageorgopoulos and Tan Terry. Picture: Martin Reddy Source: News Limited
AFTER 29 years serving saganaki and other Greek specialties to his many customers, Nick Karageorgopoulos, the face of Seagull Greek Taverna in Frankston, is hanging up the apron.
And after that, there will be no cooking — not even in the home kitchen — for the man who has made his life satisfying the appetites of thousands of diners with dishes such as grilled mussels and lamb on the spit.
Instead, he’ll drink, go fishing for whiting and snapper in his friend’s boat and take holidays with his wife.
While he will be glad to leave the cooking behind — he has spent up to 11 hours a day in the kitchen — there are aspects of the business he will miss.
Seagull Greek Taverna has been a Frankston institution for 30 years. Picture: Martin Reddy Source: News Limited
His customers, the majority of them regulars who have continued to return and whose food preferences he files in his memory, are an obvious example.
Among them are Jeff and Rita, who share the seafood and meat platter; Michelle, who has stuck to prawn saganaki since 1985; and Brian, who “goes for fish all the time and he pinches salsa from his wife”.
“I make really good friends over the years,” Mr Karageorgopoulos said.
“In the early days I used to do 120 to 130 people on Fridays and Saturdays. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s you have to book at least two to three weeks in advance for the weekend.”
He retires at Easter, but until then Mr Karageorgopoulos will be mentoring the restaurant’s new owner, Kiwi Tan Terry — a former roofing plumber, passing on his craft, wisdom and knowledge.
In a deal struck over a glass of Scotch, Mr Karageorgopoulos agreed to hand over the tongs on the condition that Mr Terry continue to serve Greek cuisine.
For a man who hadn’t eaten at a Greek restaurant before he stepped into the Seagull, it is a daunting prospect, but one he is taking up with gusto, knowing he is learning from a master.
“Nick does everything. I call him Superman at times,” he said.