NEW YORK – Spoiler alert: The Livanos family’s run on the cooking competition show Family Food Fight came to an end on August 8, one episode shy of the finals. Their journey began on June 27, as brothers Johnny and Enrico, and mom Lorena, competed on the show that offers eight families the opportunity to battle for the title of “America’s No. 1 Food Family.”
The lively Livanos family, from Westchester, NY, is best known as restaurant owners of Ousia, among other well-known restaurants, including Molyvos, named for the family’s village of origin in Lesvos. The mother and sons trio used their Greek-Italian (Lorena was born in Sicily) culinary skills on the show in competition for the $100,000 grand prize and the coveted title, and made it to the semifinals.
Nick Livanos spoke to The National Herald about his wife and sons’ participation in the cooking competition, noting that he is so proud of them and their run on the show.
Family and friends gathered at Ousia on August 8 for dinner and to watch the Livanos’ compete on Family Food Fight. Nick Livanos, wife Lorena, and their four children were present, sons Johnny, Enrico, and Christos, and daughter Niki. The proud father told The National Herald that Johnny and Enrico run Ousia, Christos is in real estate, and Niki works for Empire Merchants, an importer of wine and spirits.
Of the best aspects of participating in the show, Johnny Livanos said seeing his brother and mom in a competitive setting was fun since most of the time they cook together in a relaxed atmosphere at home with a bottle of wine. “It was fun to get into the competition and see mom’s competitive side.”
Celebrity chefs Cat Cora and Graham Elliot were among those present for the dinner on August 8 at Ousia. Nick Livanos pointed out that it was his first time meeting Cora in person. The family and the Greek-American celebrity chef greeted each other warmly.
Cora, whose family is originally from Skopelos, spoke with TNH just after arriving at Ousia.
When asked how she got involved with the show, she told TNH, “Ayesha Curry who is one of the Executive Producers and her team, and ABC and Endemol approached me to do the show and when they explained the premise of the show to me I fell in love with it immediately. At this point in my life, I’m all about food and family.”
Cora also noted that the show is “very timely with what’s going on in our world. I thought it was timely to do a show about food and family, about bringing together families around food. It’s multicultural which I really love. I love that we’ve brought together families from all walks of life, different traditions and recipes and heritage, and brought these people together that are so passionate about food, these home chefs, it was something unique and that hadn’t been done in competitive cooking yet especially in prime time television. Where instead of it being individuals and professional chefs and amateur chefs, it was families coming together. This is a very timely show and I think ABC really got it right, the format is amazing and it’s just an honor to be on the show.
When asked about the overall experience, Cora told TNH, “It was great, I’ve known Graham Elliot for a really long time, Ayesha I know and love and she’s such a wonderful person as well, so it was one big, happy family, truthfully. We had a lot of fun on set, we laughed a lot, everybody cried a little bit, there was drama, there were tears, there were a lot of highs and lows, mostly highs and successes with dishes and cooking, it was just a great experience overall. The families were just wonderful, I fell in love with all of them.”
When asked if the Livanos family had an edge with their Greek and Italian heritage, Cora said, “I think they had an edge, I know they’re giant foodies, I think they had an edge in that they just love food. I can’t say they had more of an edge than others, I think everybody who came had been cooking for years together, had a love of cooking, and they each brought the strongest person in the family to cook with them, they all had an edge in different ways.
“Mediterranean cooking is obviously my soul food, I’m Greek-American, and I grew up with great extra virgin olive oil, and fish, and the Mediterranean-style of cooking with herbs and lean meats, and beautiful fruits. We all know that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest diet on the planet. Knowing that health and wellness is so top of mind for so many people, I think that cooking Mediterranean food definitely for me, I was happy to see it when it showed up in front of me, I was happy to see a great Mediterranean dish, Greek or Italian. I think they really came with it and I think just like every family they brought something unique.”
The Maniya family faces off against the Nichols Family in the season finale of Family Food Fight on August 15 on ABC.