Greek-American Chef Michael Psilakis Busts Myths About Mediterranean Cooking

NEW YORK – Michael Psilakis, a Michelin-starred Greek-American chef, just released his second cookbook, Live to Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way, and it’s filled with quick and easy ways to adopt the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, Parade reports.

Doctors have extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet for decades, but no chef has given home cooks the recipes they’ll want to make again and again–until now. In Live to Eat, Michael Psilakis modernizes the food of his heritage to prove that clean, healthy meals can also be comforting and easy to prepare.
Cooking the Mediterranean way means deliciousness, not deprivation: a nearly endless array of satisfying weeknight meals for your family can start with just seven easy-to-find staples, from Greek yogurt to simple tomato sauce.

The book is anchored in what Psilakis calls his ‘Magnificent 7’ ingredients, aka Greek yogurt, garlic confit, roasted cherry tomatoes, garden vegetables and fruit, sweet and sour peppers and onions, tomato sauce and red wine vinaigrette, staples of myriad Mediterranean dishes.

Psilakis, the father of two young sons, is also committed to getting American families to sit down to dinner together. Read on as he explains to Lambeth Hochwald of parade why that’s so important to him and his wife, Anna:

Early in my career I think that people thought Mediterranean food was very ethnic food, that they couldn’t identity with it because it wasn’t recognizable in the way that it was written about in recipes or some of the ingredients might have been unfamiliar. To me, Mediterranean food is the original farm-to-table cuisine. It’s as simple as you can get—just add olive oil, salt and pepper!

There has been a big movement toward Mediterranean diets recently.

Even the last five years has shown huge leaps. Ten years ago I don’t think anyone knew how good octopus was. Now it’s the No. 1 seller in all of my restaurants. It’s the chicken of the Mediterranean.

Are people gravitating to these foods because of the proven health benefits?

Yes and we’re seeing a proliferation of people writing about it, reading about it and seeing the food. Once they taste the food, they can have their cake and eat it, too.

(Read the rest of the interview here.)

In 2008 alone, Psilakis was awarded Food & Wine’s Best New Chef and Bon Appetit’s Chef of the Year distinctions; nominated for A-List Chef by Bravo TV; and had his upscale Greek restaurant, Anthos, nominated for a James Beard Award in the category of Best New Restaurant. He was also named “Chef of the Year” by Esquire Magazine and his restaurant Anthos was awarded a Michelin star and named the third of ten best new restaurants by The New York Times restaurant reviewer, Frank Bruni.

A tremendous cook, the chef’s mother taught him everything about the flavors and techniques of classic Greek cooking and remains his greatest influence in the kitchen. “Even today, the flavors of my dishes are my mother’s flavors,” says Psilakis. “And my instincts for taking Greek cuisine in new directions—these I’ve inherited from her.”

Sources: Parade, Amazon, Psilakis’ webpage


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