culture, food & drink, people
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Greece on a Plate

What does Greece taste like to the
most successful Greek-origin chefs in the world?
By Alexia Amvrazi

Chef Michael Psilakis

michael-psilakis-kitchen-hi

Award-winning chef Michael Psilakis owns the lauded Kefi, MP Taverna, The Hall at MP and Fishtag restaurants in the US for which he has received numerous accolades, including the James Beard Award and a Michelin Star. His book How To Roast A Lamb was received with great aplomb for its heartening references to comforting Greek foods and earned him several TV appearances and articles in major publications.

MOST EVOCATIVE TASTE & AROMA OF GREECE:

Lemon. The bright acidity it provides is the basis of why the simplicity of Greek cuisine is so brilliant. Every bite starts anew when the lemony finish cleanses the palate and prepares the taste buds to experience subtle nuances, as if it were the first bite.

FAVORITE GREEK FOOD TO EAT RAW:

Sea urchin, cracked on the rocks, rinsed in the ocean, with a squeeze of lemon, salt… equals heaven.

IT’S WORTH DEDICATING HOURS TO COOK…:

Live fire, spit-roasted lamb, embodies the memories of childhood, dad and backyard celebrations. As I become older, I realize that food is the catalyst to my memories.

FAVORITE SEASIDE TAVERNA IN GREECE:

Kiki’s on Mykonos. There is seemingly always a two-hour wait, but they offer free-flowing rosé wine and you can stroll down to the cove, just down the path, and go for a swim while you wait. The food is excellent – but it always is when you are in paradise.

MOST COMFORTING GREEK FOOD/DISH:

Yiouvarlakia. When I was young, my mother always asked us what we wanted to eat for our birthday dinner and I always chose “meatball soup.” To this day these memories remain the building blocks of who I am as a chef, father and man.

A DASH OF GREEK CULINARY WISDOM HANDED DOWN TO ME:

Vinegar is a seasoning, not an ingredient. Salt, pepper and acid transform the simple to the spectacular.

Chef Maria Elia

maria-elia-smashing-plates-author-photo

Of Greek-Cypriot origin, chef Maria Elia trained under the likes of Ferran Adria at ΕlBulli in Spain, and has successfully headed Delfina and The Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room in London, as well as writing books such as The Modern Vegetarian and Smashing Plates: Greek Flavors Redefined and numerous articles in publications including BBC Good Food, Independent, Guardian, and Home and Garden. Elia also appears on TV and teaches cooking classes.

MY MOST COMFORTING GREEK FOOD/DISH:

The crush of feta, oregano, salt, olive oil, fresh tomato pulp – and the bread soaked in that! Really good roasted potatoes. Pasta with Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs or with Greek yogurt and caramelized onions – called syvrasi.

A DASH OF GREEK CULINARY WISDOM HANDED DOWN TO ME:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. In other words, stay away from junk and eat fresh food in season, mostly plants.

 

Chef George Kalombaris
george-calombaris

George Calombaris is a Greek-origin Australian restaurateur, chef, author, and TV personality. He has received many awards for his work and contribution to the hospitality industry in Australia. Recognised internationally, George was voted by the Global Food and Wine Magazine as one of the worlds Top 40 Chefs on Influence. George’s fascination for food started early. Inspired by his mother and grandmother, two brilliant cooks, George quickly learnt about food and cooking. 

MOST EVOCATIVE TASTE & AROMA OF GREECE:

Tomatoes – when they are in season in Greece they are incredible. The vine gives you the aroma but then the taste is everything I think about Greece. I love them so much. They are the best in the world.

FAVORITE GREEK FOOD TO EAT RAW:

Sea urchin. They are so delicious with a squeeze of lemon, and straight down the hatch. It is the true flavour of the sea.

IT’S DEFINITELY WORTH DEDICATING HOURS TO COOK:

Any type of stifado. I love using lamb necks with lots of onions, at a very low temperature for a long time.

FAVOURITE SEASIDE TAVERNA IN GREECE:

It’s not a tavern but my mate Christoforos Peskias cooks at Jackie O’s in Mykonos. The food is wonderful.

MY MOST COMFORTING GREEK FOOD/DISH:

Avgolemono. It makes me feel happy when I am down.

A DASH OF GREEK CULINARY WISDOM HANDED DOWN TO ME:  

We don’t cook to feed our stomachs, we cook to feed our souls

 

This article was first published in Greece Is 

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