A Twist on the Classics at National Hellenic Museum’s Kouzina 2018

The National Hellenic Museum hosts its annual Kouzina event, celebrating a twist on the classics with some of Chicago's most esteemed chefs. Photo by Stephen Green

CHICAGO – The National Hellenic Museum hosted its annual Kouzina event November 3, bringing together some of the city’s most esteemed chefs to serve up delicious sweet and savory dishes with “a twist on the classics.”

Chef Peter Kappos, at Greektown’s famous Greek Islands Restaurant for 36 years, entertained guests’ tastebuds with very season appropriate pumpkin flutes. Chef Larry Feldmeier of The Albert created a delectable dish featuring braised lamb shoulder with sprouted lentils, harissa and orange, while Taxim Restaurant owner and chef David Schneider served homemade Greek yogurt with traditional spoon sweets.

“Greece has thousands of recipes, thousands of islands, thousands of villages, many mountains. We are not a two dimensional people, we are a four dimensional people in space, time region, mountain, ocean, north, south, east west, Macedonia to Cyprus, all of these regions have to be represented if you want to have a proper Greek menu,” Schneider said.

Chef John Gatsos, who has been with the famous Tavern on Rush for 16 years, paid tribute to his grandmother with traditional domlades and avgolemono sauce, sprinkled with edible flowers. “Yiayia would not have added the flowers…I think they would have eaten them right out of the katsarola,” he said.

The National Hellenic Museum hosts its annual Kouzina event, celebrating a twist on the classics with some of Chicago’s most esteemed chefs. Photo by Stephen Green

Over in the sweets room, pastry chef Alain Roby of All Chocolate Kitchen treated guests to a caramel pumpkin galaktoboureko, while Sophie Evanoff of Vanille served caramel macarons decorated with Greek flags and the Greek evil eye.

Featured chefs and restaurants this year included Louie Alexakis (Avli Estatorio), George Bournas (Psistaria), Sophie Evanoff (Vanille Patisserie), Larry Feldmeier (The Albert), John Gatsos (Tavern on Rush), Mark Grimes (Che Figata), Nate Henssler (Portsmith), Peter Kappos (Greek Islands Restaurant), Tom Leo (Grecian Delight Foods) Jorgina Pereira (Sinha Elegant Cuisine), Alain Roby (All Chocolate Kitchen), David Schneider (Taxim), Adam Tanner (CityGate Grille), and Elizabeth J. Tokarczyk (Inspired Catering).

“This is an event we’ve had for many many years…we have a nice turnout here, we have local chefs here tonight… Kouzina is a very good event,” said NHM Chairman of the Board John P. Calamos.

Chef Jorgina Pereira, Sinha Elegant Cuisine, center, at Kouzina Night at the National Hellenic Museum. Photo by Stephen Green

Attendees enjoyed an open bar, special dishes and desserts, music, and a take-home calendar filled with recipes for the dishes served by chefs that night. In addition, the museum’s top floor was open and dedicated to wine tasting for the evening.

Proceeds from the $150 ticket benefit the National Hellenic Museum’s various exhibits and programs and events which include scholarly book presentations; art, dance and language lessons; as well as museum tours for visiting students.

Chef Peter Kappos of Chicago’s famous Greek Islands Restaurant serves pumpkin flutes at Kouzina 2018. Photo by Stephen Green