We had the good fortune of connecting with Joseph Karadakis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Joseph, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Always keep pushing and thinking outside of the box. At Grater Grilled Cheese, we strive to continue innovating with recipes, locations, menu items, and more, to catch our customer’s attention and keep them coming back to check out what we’ve got in store.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I come from a long lineage of professional cooks and chefs from my mother’s side of the family. My great grandmother was the Courts Chef for the last King of Greece back in the 50’s. To me, that always seemed very fascinating and actual proof that great progress can come from hard work and passion. She had no official culinary training or background, and was discovered out of her little neighborhood restaurant, not bad for a little Greek old lady, if you ask me! I have worked in back of house hospitality since I was 16 years old. I have done it all, hotel kitchens, high end restaurants and quick service food. Since my family was always involved in hospitality one way or another, I took my first steps (in non-slip shoes) in my parents restaurant in Athens.

There are always lessons to be learned and I am 100% dedicated to the exchange of culinary knowledge and passion throughout my career. One thing that follows me everywhere is that every single person in a restaurant unit is essential and a good idea can sprout from anyone. I always keep my crews very close and try to empower them to create as much as possible.

Leaving my home and family back in Greece and coming to the U.S. has been one of the biggest challenges in my life. I was working with a unique advantage back home of having a great support system and people believing in my culinary vision. When I moved to the U.S., none of that seemed to matter and none of my previous experience seemed to matter. I had to take several steps back and pay my dues again by working as a prep cook in a Mexican restaurant in Orange County, CA. It took me about three months to get promoted to Sous Chef there. After I broke that barrier, more opportunities began popping up for me. My cooking style has matured greatly over the past few years. I tend to create food which, even though may be simple in the ingredients, tends to have great complexity in flavor from the time and effort in the preparation. I’ve adapted a lot of braises, cooking low and slow, and smoking lately. Time does wonders to food. Business wise, and especially with the challenges of 2020, I have learned to be a lot more flexible and really honed my skills in market research and figuring out next food trends and what people are really craving to eat!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, aside from all four Grater Grilled Cheese locations of course (two in San Diego and two in Orange County) and sister concept, Grater Greens, I highly encourage visitors to check out the awesome neighborhoods in San Diego. Make it a point to visit La Jolla for drinks, Little Italy for a bite and sights, Oceanside to watch the surfers, and head to Don Pedros for food!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out all hospitality workers for going above and beyond for the past year and a half. Keeping our stores open and the people fed with the much needed comfort food, has been an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.

Website: https://gratergrilledcheese.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gratergrilledcheese/?hl=en

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephkaradakis/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gratergrilledcheese/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/grater-grilled-cheese-san-diego-10

Image Credits
Photo courtesy of Grater Grilled Cheese.

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