A Culinary Journey from Paris to Athens

"Transforming Simple Ingredients into Culinary Masterpieces"

Chef Arnaud Bignon, born in Le Mans, France, has ascended the heights of global cuisine with a refined approach that merges classic French techniques with inventive modern twists. His formative culinary experiences began in the familial settings of his grandmother’s kitchen and grandfather’s garden, instilling in him a profound appreciation for fresh, seasonal ingredients. His professional journey has been marked by stints with culinary luminaries such as Yannick Alleno and Alain Ducasse and significant roles at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants.

Bignon’s tenure at Spondi Restaurant in Athens and The Greenhouse in London, each rewarded with two Michelin stars under his leadership, underscores his ability to elevate dining experiences. Now serving as the Executive Chef of Spondi and General Director, as well as a consultant for the Trastelis group, Bignon continues to influence the culinary landscape with his distinctive style that emphasizes purity and simplicity, ensuring each dish resonates with both tradition and innovation.

The Cuisine

Spondi Restaurant in Athens, Greece, is distinguished by its elegant French cuisine, creatively integrated with select Greek influences. Awarded two Michelin stars, Spondi is renowned for its impeccable service and the culinary expertise of Chef Arnaud Bignon. Nestled in a historical ambiance, the restaurant offers a refined menu that showcases seasonal ingredients through sophisticated French techniques, making it a must-visit for those seeking an extraordinary dining experience.

Culinary Close-Up

In the Kitchen with Chef Arnaud Bignon

Behind the doors at Spondi Restaurant, Athens, for a close-up experience in the kitchen where sustainability meets sophisticated taste. Discover how Chef Arnaud Bignon, with his refined approach and dedication to using fresh, seasonal ingredients, is transforming simple components into culinary masterpieces. Learn about his journey from Le Mans, France, to leading Spondi to two Michelin stars, and gain insights into his innovative techniques and culinary philosophy.

Philosophical Foundations

Chef Bignon, you’ve often spoken about the influence of your grandparents on your culinary journey.

Can you elaborate on how these early experiences continue to shape your culinary philosophy today?

–  From very young I learn to recognize what is a very good product, so imagine 40 years later how I am very focus on the high quality products, I am all the time looking for better. This is really my goal day after day to find all the time the best for my guests.

Michelin Star Magic

Achieving a Michelin star is a dream for many chefs, yet you have earned multiple stars at different restaurants.

What do you believe is the key to consistently creating Michelin-level dining experiences?

–  I think to be very open minded and don’t have any Gates in our dreams. Every day is a new challenge, creating and exploring our passion is a daily work.

Culinary Innovation

You are known for your innovative use of traditional ingredients.

Can you share how you balance innovation with maintaining the integrity of traditional flavors?

–  I love to play with powerful flavors but with harmony, but the main point of each dish is the products quality. After, I combine with new technics to make each dish original, balance and tasty.

Advice to Aspiring Chefs What advice would you give to young chefs who aspire to one day earn their own Michelin stars? -  To be very curious, to watch around, to taste a lot everything and to work close to Great Chefs while also discovering and cultivating their unique culinary style.

Leadership in the Kitchen

Transitioning from Chef to a leadership role as a General Director and consultant, how has your approach to cooking and management evolved over the years?

–  Transitioning from a Chef to a leadership role as a General Director and consultant, my approach to cooking and management has significantly evolved over the years.

Our industry is changing rapidly due to staffing shortages, requiring new strategies to maintain and enhance our services. As a Chef, my focus was always on delivering the best possible experience for our guests, which gave me hands-on insight into service excellence.

This foundational principle has not changed; instead, it has expanded. Now, as a General Director and Consultant, I apply the same dedication to quality and guest satisfaction while developing innovative solutions and strategies to adapt to the evolving landscape. This continuity in my approach ensures that we continue to excel despite the challenges we face.

Future Trends

With the culinary world constantly evolving, what trends do you see dominating fine dining in the next decade?

–  I think that the fine dining will be less and less feasible,  due to the missing staff, the high prices of the products and there will be more focus on the guest experience.

Favorite Signature Dish

Could you share with us the story behind your Favorite signature dish at Spondi?

–  My favorite dish at Spondi is the Burgaud duck filet. We cook it on pine needles and top it with a pine praline. It is served with beetroot slices cooked in salt and finished with pine oil. Accompanying the dish is a blackberry puree infused with red shiso.

The inspiration for this dish was to utilize a product abundant in Greece: pine. We incorporated it in various forms—praline, oil, and smoke. Additionally, we aimed for a monochromatic presentation in purple. I never get tired cooking and tasting it.

Culinary close up with Chef Arnaud Bignon, Spondi Restaurant, Michelin Restaurant-Athens by All4Chefs

Sourcing Philosophy

Can you discuss your approach to sourcing ingredients? How do you balance local sourcing with the global flavors that characterize your dishes?

All the best products we can find in Greece we are using them, but after I don’t want to have limits for creating, so we import products from France as well. I am so curious that I want all the time to cook with something new, to try, to taste and after to see if it is possible or not to add it on the menu.

Navigating Changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the restaurant industry.

How did you adapt your operations at Spondi during and after the pandemic to maintain service excellence?

–  During the Covid we took the decision to stay closed without any options as delivery food because it was too difficult to put on track. After the Covid we decided to reopen with a menu based on comfort food because we didn’t know how the guests will react, but very fast we understood that the guests were expecting to go back to fine dining .

Economic Challenges

 In light of economic fluctuations, how do you maintain the high standards and operational costs associated with a Michelin-starred restaurant?

–  This is our new challenge for the coming year, how to drive a Michelin restaurant and be profitable. At Spondi, we have still a la carte and Tasting Menu, so the guests can choose depending of their desire but I really think that it is not anymore possible because of the stock, the staff number needed and prices of the products. In the close future we will keep just the Tasting menu to provide a better experience to the guests.

Advice to Aspiring Chefs What advice would you give to young chefs who aspire to one day earn their own Michelin stars? -  To be very curious, to watch around, to taste a lot everything and to work close to Great Chefs while also discovering and cultivating their unique culinary style.

Personal Favorites

Outside of your professional achievements, what are some personal favorite dishes you enjoy cooking at home?

–  I love to cook a chicken curry with some brown rice or some fresh pasta with some shrimps, ginger and coriander. Some tasty and very fresh dishes, easy to cook.

Advice to Aspiring Chefs

What advice would you give to young chefs who aspire to one day earn their own Michelin stars?

–  To be very curious, to watch around, to taste a lot everything and to work close to Great Chefs while also discovering and cultivating their unique culinary style.

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Culinary close up with Chef Arnaud Bignon, Spondi Restaurant, Michelin Restaurant-Athens by All4Chefs