Turns Out The Iconic ‘Surprise Chef’ Was Never Actually Named Aristos & Everything Is A Lie

Though we’re living in an age where you cannot even turn around slightly without bumping into some sort of cooking show on TV, in the early 2000s that was largely limited to Geoff Jansz fumbling about a tuna casserole in front of a captive audience of people home sick from school. There was a King, however – and a True King at that – and his name was Aristos the Surprise Chef. Or, at least, we all thought it was.

Surprise Chef, to recap, was a gloriously berserk series that ran on Seven from 2001 until 2003, in which Chef Aristos pithed about a local Coles until he found someone willing to hand over their kitchen and the contents of their shopping trolley to him, after which time he would whip together a delicious feast.

Peppered with repeated references to “me old mate” (olive oil), “Harold Holt” (salt), and “Sergeant” (pepper), the series was a screaming hit and provided the blueprint for the avalanche of prime time cooking series that followed. Surprise Chef walked so MKR et al could run, more or less.

But as it turns out, his name isn’t – and was never – actually “Aristos.”

Thanks to a Where Are They Now profile published by the Herald Sun this morning, which details old mate’s dramatic rise and fall from the public eye in the early 2000s, we casually learned that “Aristos” is only a nickname, and that his “real” name is, in fact, Aaron.

According to the article, the Surprise Chef’s actual name is Aaron Papandroulakis, which shatters a decent amount of my adolescent memories in one fell swoop.

“Aristos,” as it were, is a nickname and brand that Papandroulakis had bee building long before TV cameras switched on to him in 2001.

A little additional digging reveals that his full name is apparently Aristidis Aaron Papandroulakis, but it’s the Aaron part that he leads with. In an only mildly related quirk, Papandroulakis was fined $10,000 by a WA court in 2018 for storing recreationally caught rock lobster at a commercial restaurant.

Make of all of that what you will, but if you’re anything like me you’re gonna need to go take a long slow breath and rethink some stuff now.