ASTORIA – The Board of Directors and the Cultural Events Committee of the Chian Federation celebrated My Greek Table with celebrity chef Diane Kochilas at the Chian Federation in Astoria on March 28. The hall was filled with fans of Kochilas and her PBS show, My Greek Table, which begins its second season this April.
The event began with hors d’oeuvres and welcoming remarks by Anna Kondoulis, followed by a buffet dinner including Kochilas’ signature recipe for eggplant papoutsakia (little shoes) which was prepared by Ousia restaurant for the guests to enjoy.
Kochilas graciously signed copies of her latest cookbook which was available for purchase at the event.
An episode of My Greek Table, featuring Kochilas’ visit to the island of Lesvos, was also screened at the event. Besides highlighting the wonderful food and ouzo of the island, the show also focused on philotimo and the ways the residents have dealt with and continue to deal with the refugee crisis and its effects.
Following the show screening, Kochilas spoke about the Greek diet, its health benefits, and how it dates back thousands of years to prehistory. Born in New York, she noted her roots on the island of Ikaria, well-known as “the island where people forget to die,” and growing up in Jackson Heights. Her father, Kochilas pointed out, was the chef in the family. Food, she noted, is deeply rooted in the culture but sharing food is also an important part of Greek culture.
“Food is much more than just sustenance, it’s about the continuity of our culture,” Kochilas said. “Food and diet are mirrors of history, geography, and culture.”
She then spoke about the upcoming episodes of My Greek Table which feature among the many locations in Greece, an episode on “ancient Greece for modern cooks” and insludes a visit with Dr. John Camp, director of the Athenian Agora excavations and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor of Classics at Randolph-Macon College.
Greek food traditions are still intact even as the cuisine is evolving. Kochilas noted the amazing modern Greek food in Athens today which is featured in another episode this season. She also hopes to do an episode on Chios soon and plans for season 3 are already in the works.
Kochilas thanked all those present for their continuing support, noting her connection to the Greek-American community, and having lived in Greece for 27 years, the love of the homeland and the dedication to promoting Greece and the Greek diet which we all share.
Showcasing Greece and promoting the food, wine, history, culture, and cuisine of one of the most timeless cuisines and countries in the World, My Greek Table is a hit with Greeks and non-Greeks alike. The show reaches on average 2.2 million people per episode in the United States.
The Chian Federation felt the need to support the show since promoting and preserving Greek culture is at the core of its mission.
Celebrity chef and cookbook author Diane Kochilas spoke about her PBS show My Greek Table and about the Greek diet at the Chian Federation in Astoria. Photo: TNH/Kostas Bej
Among the speakers at the event were Chian Federation President John Kontolios who thanked all those present and noted the importance of such events for the community, Amalia Bournias who pointed out that the event was a year in the making and thanked the sponsors, and Despina Frintzilas who offered a brief biography of Kochilas.
Among the guests present were Cultural Attache to the Greek Consulate Evelyn Kanellea, Ridgefield, NJ Councilman and Chios Societies of the Americas and Canada Supreme President Dimitrios Kontolios, Hellenic Lawyers Association (HLA) President Chrysanthy N. Zapantis-Melis and her husband Dr. James Melis, HLA 2nd Vice President George Zapantis, and Hellenic Film Society USA President Jimmy Demetro, as well as many members of the Chian Federation, the Women’s Auxiliary, Youth, and past presidents.
More information about My Greek Table is available online: http://www.dianekochilas.com/my-greek-table-with-diane-kochilas/.
The Chian Federation celebrated My Greek Table with Diane Kochilas. Photo: TNH/Kostas Bej