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At 60, How Irini Tzortzoglou Became UK Master Chef, Life Changed

Bored after retiring from her executive work with Greece’s Piraeus Bank, Irini Tzortzoglou, living in the Cumbria region of England, returned to her family roots in cooking, put together Greek food menus, and won on the BBC Master Chef show.

She was 60 years old. That was 2019 and now that her second career has been cooking too, that led her to write a Greek cook book, Under the Olive Tree, and acclaim for the dishes she makes.

It wasn’t as easy as pie though. “I didn’t want to embarrass myself by leaving in round one, so I trained myself for a year,” she told the British newspaper The Guardian about her plan.

“I went to Athens, I ate at Michelin-star restaurants. I wanted to see what was happening with Greek food today. I watched a little bit of Greek MasterChef to see what the young chefs were doing. And then I started practicing.”

Tzortzoglou, 64, was born in Crete, where her grandparents’ house was always open – her grandfather was a priest – and her grandmother would cook for dozens of people, the paper said. There’s the answer.


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