‘It’s in my DNA’: Con Dedes on how his Greek upbringing inspired his culinary journey

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Greek Australian Con Dedes is certainly no stranger to the hospitality scene.

With over 30 years of experience in running and operating restaurants in Sydney, Con speaks with The Greek Herald and shares how his Greek heritage has inspired his culinary journey.

Tell us about your journey in the restaurant industry and how it all began.

My journey in hospitality semi formally started from the age of 12. I was washing dishes and pots and pans in the kitchen of Dedes Restaurant at the once known Western Suburbs Soccer Club. It was super busy and by its very nature, all the seeds of hospitality and what it was all about were beginning to take shape within my DNA. 

Watching my mother Helen and my father Stavros look after their own team, guests and suppliers obviously made an impression from an early age. I then progressed within the kitchen cooking next to dad up until the age of 19 or so, when I experienced the front of house and what it took to aspire to become a restauranteur.

Which part of Greece are your parents from? Did they migrate here?

My father Stavros is from a small village called Apidea close to Scala, and my mother Helen is from Mytilene. My dad was a police officer and got stationed in Mytilene, where he met mum and they both migrated to Australia in 1967 on the Patris.

Has your Greek heritage inspired you at all throughout your career?

The heritage has undoubtedly inspired me not specifically in opening a Greek restaurant (although that should still be on the cards for the future), but by the very nature that as Greeks we are naturally hospitable and hence want to extend that to our fellow person. There will always be nods to our beautiful cuisine within the aspirational and casual dining offers at Dedes Waterfront Group. 

Do you have a favourite Greek food?

When it comes to favourites within the Greek cuisine, there is not one standout – although it is super hard to beat a horiatiki salata with a side of yemista  – classics will always be classics.

Your latest restaurant opening was SALA Dining. How does this restaurant differ from the rest in your portfolio?

SALA at Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont fits beautifully within our suite of restaurants as a wonderful waterfront venue. It compliments Flying Fish as an outstanding aspirational dining offer serving seasonal seafood with a modern Italian bent.

If you weren’t in hospitality which industry do you think you’d be in?

If my path had not lead me down the hospitality route, I think my calling would have been one where looking out for people would have been a cornerstone – a career with that alignment no doubt. Wasn’t tall enough to be in the fire brigade!

With so many different names under the Dedes Waterfront Group, you must be extremely busy. What do you do to take your mind off the stresses of work?

We are blessed within Dedes Waterfront Group to have so many beautiful and varied brands, so one day is definitely never the same – my wife Kerrie and I have wonderful people around us from our HQ to of course our great venues. 

Con and Kerrie Dedes

We have worked together in the industry for the last thirty years and whilst this has at times been super challenging, it has also been very rewarding to see and be a part of the growth, and to watch our team members grow with us. To unwind, the golf course holds a special place with family and friends and, believe it or not, spending more time with Kerrie and our children.

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