Welcome to my small creative world, it is a pleasure to meet you.
My name is Karolos Michailidis aka #thefoodarchitect. I do not consider myself a blogger or an influencer. I am a licensed architect who is passionate about food and everything that has to do with cooking and eating.
I was born and raised in Greece- as Mediterranean as it gets. A big part of my childhood years I spent in a small settlement in the rural area of Kiparissonas (Kiparissonas is a Greek word and it means " Cypress Plantation " - an evergreen tree which represents longevity and endurance) in a restored farmhouse set in nature who was entirely renovated by my father upon ruins dated back to the 18th century. Till the age of 5 or 6 we almost entirely lived there. Now, at the age of 30, I do realize the impact these years had on me and the way I perceive things around me. In a way this environment is a foodie’s paradise. What now foodies call “props” was the day to day utensils used in that house for every lunch, dinner and bbq party. Back then it was just too many cupboards full of “stuff”! Having such a close relationship with nature, having our own production of olive oil, wine, thyme honey, and a seasonal vegetable garden. Being in such close proximity to farm animals and learning the fundamentals in their core. For a kid this is his playground. Growing up I realize how much respect and understanding I have for the Greek cuisine.

"I see food as an art form. A way of expression. A very truthful and sincere way of giving something to others. A reason to smile, feel happy, content."

"Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks."

Judith B. Jones

When I left for England to study Architecture in Bath I knew very few things regarding cooking. My mom had given me a 2-set-book called ‘’Tselementes: Everyday recipes’’. In Greek Tselementes, although it is the name of a great figure of Greek gastronomy, it is also translates as ‘cookbook’. These books where my first references to Greek recipes and my go-to when I wanted to make something. I remember the first dish I ever made was Pastitsio (a Greek layered baked dish with pasta, minced meat and béchamel on-top). It is a rather difficult and time consuming recipe. And most importantly it needs many containers and pots and pans. I only had one IKEA pot back then and I had found a method of making it with just this one pot. When the dish went into the oven and it started baking, releasing all the aromas, and the béchamel and cheese started melting and rising, all my friends living in the same accommodation flat started coming into the shared kitchen trying to figure out what was this mouthwatering smell. It has to be noted that for everyone, Greek or non-Greek, it was the first time living alone, away from home and having to survive on our own and most of us had almost no experience in cooking. That night we had dinner altogether. People from other flats joined and you could just hear sounds of pleasure and satisfaction. For me it did not seem at the time as something special. I had followed a recipe, simple as that. However it was very fulfilling making people happy with food. It brought together people from different parts of England and Europe around a table, people that had met just a few days ago, all enjoying a meal and sitting around a table, getting to know each other.

"Throughout my years being an Architecture student cooking was always my psychotherapy."
Cooking grounded me but in the same time made me feel free. For me cooking gave me the satisfaction of instant creativity. But also an instant reaction and feedback from others. While in architecture an idea goes through so many stages, analysis, back and forth, constraints, time, I felt as If I lost my creative self in this process. And cooking was my escape. My way to be creative when I wanted. It fulfilled my inpatient self, the part inside of me that cannot wait. This made me try to link my studies with my passion and tried to connect my projects to cooking. I researched a lot about the relationship between cooking and food in relation to architecture and design and how one inspires and influences the other (TYPOLOGIES OF FOOD AND SPACE). My graduation project was a cooking school that had a market, an urban garden, a restaurant and a small production facility. This gave me the opportunity to go deeper into the logistics, function and processes entailed in the food industry. My interest grew and I became more and more intrigued about all the aspects of food and the experience linked to it.

Living in Paris for a while obviously made me fall in love with food even more. Everything about it, from ingredients, to the cooking techniques, to the serving and the savoir-vivre that makes dining a ritual. It is during that period that I started thinking about the rituals of food, the dining experience and the full cycle of preparing a dinner. Going to the Netherlands for my masters was also a huge stop in my life. It is funny how I ended up studying in 2 countries with very limited culinary history and resources. Both the UK and the Netherlands have very few traditional dishes. However, this made me cook more at home, try new recipes, experiment. I will never forget how I had to go around the whole of Delft looking for a leg of lamb so I could cook for all my friends for Easter. I wanted to treat all my non-Greek friends with a proper Greek Easter and all the culinary traditions. As anyone who knows me can expect, I had brought with me from Athens the (good) Greek brand to dye eggs. It is not that I missed home so much. Maybe the food a bit but I always cooked Greek, hearthy dishes so that was comforting. I missed the tradition of food, the get-togethers, the loud chatting, the long coffees, the drinking during the day.

Now let me talk about Thanksgiving! I know I am Greek and I know how far from our culture Thanksgiving is BUT… what a great opportunity for a ‘so-stuffed-dinner’ it is. I went to a Greek-American school so we were introduced to the tradition and history of Thanksgiving from quite early. The parents of one of my best friends from school always organized these huge thanksgiving feasts and we always had a sleepover after being super stuffed with food. When we left for studies and started being grown-ups I kind of got the responsibility of cooking for every Thanksgiving. It wasn’t exactly a responsibility, but a pleasure. It is when I started learning to cook for many people, in small kitchens with limited resources. I remember once I had to go from Bath to London to cook and I was super late. Our friends from France had come over too and we ended up eating the turkey at 12 at night but was still so worth it. I have memories of me preparing a Thanksgiving feast in all the cities I have lived. It was so exciting having to prepare all these dishes, both savory and sweet.

In 2015, after almost 10 years living abroad I decided to go back to Athens. Being away for so long in one hand makes you so full of experiences and stimuli but you start becoming a stranger in your own city. I love Athens, even in its mess. It is so rich in so many different ways. The loudness, traffic, people, food, proximity to the sea and mountains, ease to move around, are things that you cannot find in any other city. Even the architecture in Athens is so interesting. The typology of the Greek ‘polykatoikia’ (multi-storey apartment building) has so much to give in the future as a way of living and interacting with each other. Greece has so many things to offer and it would be a shame not to make the most of it, especially because it is my heritage. Greek gastronomy is still so very limitedly presented to the world and in so many levels people haven’t experienced it yet.
Soon after moving back, together with a friend, we started our own architecture firm. A bold move for that time and the booming of the economic crisis but during difficult times also the best opportunities rise. It was an interesting 3 years, with nice projects and learning a lot about the industry. Cooking was always my hobby- doing it on the side, with small pop-up dinners, brunch events and developing the menu for some places in Athens. When a friend called me who had many clients and wanted me to help, I started taking on many catering events so I had to multi-task a lot. Running from the office to go to the central market in Athens to buy meat, all last minute, cooking like crazy, many sleepless nights but very exciting. However juggling two jobs at the same time cannot last for long.
"The most difficult thing for me was to let go of my title as an Architect and take the decision to make my hobby my day to day job."
This process took a long time. After 7 years of studying Architecture and working in the field it is difficult to stop defining yourself by your profession and what it entitles. But now I realize I don’t need to. The fact that I am an Architect has affected me in many ways in everything I do. There is a huge fear when you decide to make your passion your day to day job but I haven’t regretted it. And it is so liberating when the moment is right and you actually go through with it. Since 2018 I started getting into food styling and food photography. It somehow made sense to me since it combines all my skills I have developed as an Architect and there is such a big gap in the market in Greece. For the past year and a half, I have been building my skills, style and ethical code and it is an exciting work in progress. Very stimulating and creative but stressful at the same time. Having to built a new client list and create-design-built-promote my brand for a second time in my 20s is as intense as it sounds but when you are passionate about something nothing can stop you. So, if I have something to recommend to whoever is reading this long ‘about’ chapter is to find something you are passionate about and do it no matter what!

Being able to leave the city and go for a couple of days or weeks either on the mountain or an island and work from there, de-compress and get inspired by the silence, nature and everything the countryside has to offer is a huge blessing. It is like going back to your roots and I know how cliché this might sound but as you grow older you start appreciating these things. So, this new chapter- and decade- is about appreciating myself and everything around me.

* A huge part of this website -physically and mentally- is because of H and I cannot express my gratitude in words. Being there in every part of this PROCESS, every time I doubted myself, every time I needed advice, support, choosing pictures, to debate or argue with someone. Every crazy idea, new recipe, every eating opportunity, all the junk food in bed and all the unforgettable travel experiences.