Vol. 12, No. 20 Oct. 21 - Nov. 3, 1999



     
 

Bedford Park Chef Has a Way with Words

By  Jon Minners

xpoet.jpg (19856 bytes)When a high school student walked into the Bedford Park Caf and Restaurant with no money for food, the chef and manager, Kostas Katehis, fed her anyway. He talked with the teenager and encouraged her to stay in school. The next day, he says, the student came into the restaurant to let him know she went to school all day and planned on doing so from now on.

"The young people I’m involved with do listen," he said.

Katehis, a native of Greece, is not only blessed with listeners but with readers. The 17-year Bedford Park resident is an accomplished writer and poet.

In addition to his freelance work for Greek magazines and newspapers, Katehis published a book of poetry in 1994, appropriately titled "Nights of Sorrow on Jerome Avenue."

"It gets my mind out of the restaurant business," he says of his poetry. "It makes me feel good."

But why are the poems so sad then?

"When I write," Katehis explains, "I’m in a bad mood or upset. Pain, suffering it makes for the best poetry."

Pain and suffering are also a part of recent Greek history, Katehis says.

Sadness in the Dark
By Kostas Katehis

You said to me you’re going
    but I didn’t believe you
I didn’t expect from your lips
    To hear the words "I leave you"
And all this time, that we spent the moments
    so together
I thought it’ll last and it will be
   one beat of hearts
                              forever
I saw you walking out the door
    like a shadow in the rain
and I felt sadness in the dark
    along in sea of pain.
I felt a tear on the wind
    burning along my face
And then I felt deep in my heart
    a great empty place.

"I was upset the way the Greek government was," he said, describing the atmosphere in the country before he came to the United States in 1973. "At 8 o’clock, you had to go back home and stay there. It was martial law. You had to be very careful."

Greece is no longer governed by a dictatorship and Katehis just returned from a visit there.

And despite the inspiration he gets from sadness, Katehis insists he is very happy with his life. He has many friends, including Natasha Sotiroeoulous who sketched the picture on the cover of his book.

His niece, Katerina Aronis, provided the sketches that begin each chapter. And the prologue was written by George Tsoukas, his teacher in Greece.

"He’s a guy you can get inspirations from," Katehis says.

He also has a book that will be published in Greece and his first all-English book of poetry, "Sadness in the Dark," will be published in the United States soon.

"I was afraid of doing something in English," he says.

As Katehis looks back on his life, he says has no regrets.

"I’m very happy with my life," he says. "I did what I wanted to do."

He also say he enjoys being a chef, and that people regularly commend him on his cooking skills.

"You have to like to do something like that," Katehis says. "Liking it makes it come out very nice and I keep doing it." The same can be said of his poetry.

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