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May 22, 2019

Q&A with Oli.Vine Chef and CHOPPED Winner Nicholas Poulmentis

We first mentioned Oli.Vine on Ditmars in our Spring Openings, Closings & Rumors roundup, but we’ve recently learned that Astoria’s own CHOPPED champion and former Akrotiri chef Nicholas Poulmentis is now (…)

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We first mentioned Oli.Vine on Ditmars in our Spring Openings, Closings & Rumors roundup, but we’ve recently learned that Astoria’s own CHOPPED champion and former Akrotiri chef Nicholas Poulmentis is now the Executive Chef at the contemporary Mediterranean restaurant, owned by architect duo Peter and Harriet Nikakis.

The menu features Shrimp Grape Leaf Maki Roll, a sushi roll made with grape leaves in lieu of nori and filled with cucumber, tempura shrimp, roasted red peppers and topped with fried capers and smoked salmon mousse; Black Tarama featuring Octopus ink and topped with a coral tuille and truffle powder (utilizing molecular gastronomy); and Smoked Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Aji Amarillo sauce, bacon, and tiger shrimp; Horseradish-Crusted Cod and more.

We asked Chef a few questions about the restaurant and his new role there–enjoy and get hungry! :)

1. Tell us a little bit about your culinary background and experience. Where did your passion for food come from, and what kind of path has your career followed thus far?

I studied at Greece Steanavios, Cordon Bleu in Paris and interned all over Greece and Europe. My passion and love for cooking came from my father who cooked with me daily and was a true believer in the “sea to table” concept.

My career has been a roller coaster with so many challenges. However, even in the worst times, cooking has always given me hope and shown me that there is always a silver lining. When I am going through a rough time I find that I am even more creative. Thankfully today I am in a great place in my career and doing something with amazing people that makes me very proud.

Oli.Vine’s smoked goat cheese gnocchi.

2. What is the concept behind Oli.Vine, and what is something different that the team hopes it brings to the neighborhood?

Oli.Vine is a brilliant concept. We are a real family at Oli.Vine, from owner Ms. Harriet to Catherine (General Manager), everyone is very supportive. We are bringing Mediterranean flavors and products to the plate in a new, inventive and exciting way. Our dishes and our service are filled with passion.

 

3. What flavors and techniques are you bringing to the menu and what is your favorite dish?

I am bringing sea and land dishes to the table inspired from all around Europe and Japan, but finished with Greek touches. My favorite dish this year changed the way I approach seafood and greens. I created a sushi roll with grape leaves instead of Nori. However, my signature Black Tamara will be my biggest love and greatest creation.

Poulmentis competing on Food Network’s Chopped.

4. What was it like competing on “Chopped” last year? What did the experience teach you?

Winning “Chopped” was a humbling experience and it made me more open-minded and competitive. “Chopped” is one of the most difficult cooking competitions even for the most experienced chefs.
 

5. From working and living in this neighborhood for a number of years, what are some of your other favorite spots?

I absolutely love Astoria and supporting the local businesses there. The manager and I frequent an independent soap store called The Little Soap Shop which sells absolutely amazing soaps, shampoos, and bath stuff. I love Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana on Ditmars Blvd; they have great pizza. Broadway has a ton of amazing coffee shops. Parisi’s has the most amazing breads. I mean, we have everything in Astoria; we are a very diverse town. That is one of the many reasons I love it so much. I think Oli.Vine is unique just like the neighborhood it resides in and many people will love what we have to offer.

Oli.Vine’s Beet Carpaccio.

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