Meet the man behind Riyadh’s newest Michelin starred destination, Chez Bruno

Meet the man behind Riyadh’s newest Michelin starred destination, Chez Bruno

Chef Theodoros Katsoulotos sits at the helm of Chez Bruno and explores a fusion of Mediterranean delicacies and Saudi flavours through his dishes
15 November 23
Chef Theodoros Katsoulotos of Chez Bruno, Diriyah

Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the original home to the Saudi royal family, and home to iconic mud brick architecture and landmarks such as At Turaif and Bujairi Terrace, recently welcomed distinguished French establishment Chez Bruno.

The head chef of this Michelin starred icon is Chef Theodoros Katsoulotos, a virtuoso in Mediterranean and European cuisines. His expertise in flavour profiles and culinary techniques has been instrumental in bringing these rich traditions to life, which is perhaps why he is today carrying forward the legacy of Chez Bruno in the Kingdom.

The Very Beginning

With training from some of the finest culinary mentors, Chef Theodoros has skilfully integrated traditional styles with his own unique flair. His professional journey, deeply rooted in Greek culture, had an unassuming start, yet it holds the secret ingredient to his much-loved creations. What began as an exploration of the gastronomic arts (sometimes alongside his grandmother) unknowingly laid the foundation for his future culinary excellence.

“It was my lifelong dream to become a chef, right from childhood. When I finished high school, I decided to study cooking in Athens. After that, I honed my skills in the kitchen of a Greek island hotel. It was an important experience for me because it was my first contact with recruitment,” says Chef Theodoros. His passion for creative cooking and culinary excellence led him to gain valuable experiences in Greece, France, and Italy, working alongside some of the world's most revered chefs. His dedication to fine dining and innovation has since earned him awards such as Favourite European Restaurant Riyadh 2023 and came highly commend for European Restaurant Timeout 2023 for Chez Bruno, as well as the Hautsde-France award at Cannes 2020 and the annual award for Innovative Chef in 2018.

“I like to be creative. It's my passion to put together a nice plate, to see the clients happy, and receive good feedback,” he explains, smiling.

Charmed by Saudi

From Arjun Waney, owner of famous restaurants like Zuma, Coya, and LPM, to private patrons in different cities, Chef Theodoros is no stranger to catering to high-profile clients. His experience in Saudi, however, stands out as a notable chapter in his professional journey so far. After associating with a company with branches across France, the Caribbean, and Türkiye, he was given the chance to visit Saudi and was instantly drawn to its rich culture, hospitality, and safety. “When the Covid pandemic hit, I got the opportunity to come to the Kingdom. I took it and spent three months here. The culture, the warmth of the locals – let’s just say I was impressed and decided to stay,” he says.

A Magical Ingredient  

At the core of Chef Theodoros’ culinary philosophy lies a deep reverence for fresh, local, and sustainable foods. He believes the quality of ingredients is paramount, serving as the foundation upon which noteworthy dishes are built. But there is one ingredient that truly stands out at Chez Bruno – with so many new eateries mushrooming in the capital, this restaurant has made its mark with its truffle-heavy menu.

“I can tell you that there’s nothing quite like this restaurant in the world. In a year, it makes about 10 tonnes of truffles in France,” says Theodoros. “All our dishes have truffles, every dish has a different kind, and it’s all mainly seasonal – black truffle is available in November, for instance. Each plate at Chez Bruno is an experience in itself.”

Chef Theodoros is certain that Saudis will fall in love with the restaurant’s offerings, and he is open to adapting dishes to cater to local preferences. His goal is to ensure every customer leaves with a memorable taste of his culinary creations.

“I feel that Arab people in general are open-minded, they like to try new flavours. Otherwise, I'm very flexible. We have many fusion dishes on our menu. In Ramadan, for instance, we served sambusas, with our own twist. So, I’m happy to accommodate requests, to ensure our customers come back again and again. I want them to remember that special touch and the distinct flavours of every dish.”

Culinary Favourites

So, what does an innovative, award-winning chef sit down to eat?

Chef Theodoros' picks include the humble sole meuniere, a dish prepared with butter, brown sauce, and lemon, resulting in a deliciously flavourful experience. He also has a soft spot for fresh pasta, such as ravioli, gnocchi, and penne. When he's not cooking for diners, he enjoys preparing a hearty lamb and potato meal for his family, inspired by the flavours of his mother's home cooking.

And another one of his absolute favourites? Dolma. “I love the dolmas here in Saudi, I used to eat them a lot. It's like mama style. Whenever I eat one, I think of my mom,” he says.

Passing on the Passion

Beyond his culinary prowess, Chef Theodoros is driven by a desire to inspire the next generation of chefs and share his love for gastronomy. “To everyone who wants to start, I’d like to tell them to be passionate and eager. It's not easy. In the beginning, I didn't get paid. I used to work for practice, but I made the decision to go to France to start my career. I was lucky that I worked under a good chef and had great mentors, so it all went well,” he says. His infectious love for cooking is evident in every interaction, as he imparts his wisdom and encourages others to embrace the pursuit of culinary excellence.

So, the next time you’re in Riyadh and looking for an unforgettable dining experience, drop by Chez Bruno, where Chef Theodoros will take you on a flavour-filled journey that will leave you wanting more.

Al Bujairi, Diriyah, Riyadh 13711