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The Tsakiris Family Speaks with TNH about Their Cookbook, “Sea Salt and Honey”

NEW YORK – The Tsakiris family have made the Mediterranean lifestyle- with its emphasis on the sea, sun, family, friends, and, crucially, the food that celebrates all these things- the center of their lives.

Nicholas Tsakiris, a prize-wining designer and architect, is a lifelong experimenter with cooking and spices and has inspired both his daughters, Olivia and Chloe, to do the same. They have written a charming cookbook, titled Sea Salt and Honey, published by HarperCollins and available May 25, based on their years of family cooking and entertaining.

With 100 delicious recipes and enchanting stories from the Greek- American Tsakiris family, Sea Salt and Honey also includes more than 100 impressive full-color photographs by James Beard award-winning photographer Romas Foord.

Olivia and Nicholas, who live in the idyllic village of Kardamili, Greece, both maintain large gardens, which is where they derive the bulk of their produce for cooking. Chloe is inspired by the myriad food shops and markets in New York City. All three pursue the spirit of Greek and Mediterranean life wherever they are. They spoke with The National Herald about Sea Salt and Honey, the writing process, and their favorite recipes from the book.

TNH: What made you decide to write this book?

Chloe Tsakiris: Our family has always been obsessed with food. Our lives actually revolve around it. We also all share a passion for hosting friends in our homes and showing love by feeding them. Most intriguing though, was actually writing this with my father and sister. To be able to have something that we wrote together, forever, and pass down in our family is pretty amazing.

TNH: How long did the process take from idea to publication?

Nicholas Tsakiris: The process started over five years ago, writing is not any of our full time jobs, Sea Salt and Honey was and is our passion project. At times, it was very difficult to juggle home life, work life and writing a book. That in combination with finding the right team to develop it, took time. In 2018, we got a publication deal with HarperCollins. Now, three years later, it's finally being published!

TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

CT: I am the baker of the family so I was delegated the baking recipes. However, you will notice that there is no butter or sugar allowed in Sea Salt and Honey, a rule enforced by my dad, Nicholas. This made it particularly challenging when developing the baking recipes because unlike cooking, baking is an exact science, to which butter and sugar are typically the main ingredients. Having to recreate treats using olive oil and honey instead called for countless rounds of recipe testing and playing with different measurements and elements, particularly the Sea Salt and Honey Chocolate Chunk Cookies come to mind. Although the process was frustrating at times, in the end, I'm grateful for being pushed to create a unique product that is pure, healthy-ish, and absolutely delicious. 

TNH: What surprised you the most during the process?

Olivia Tsakiris: Probably the most surprising was how long the full process takes. There were so many rounds of edits, endless recipe testing, an eight day photo shoot where we cooked and shot at least 10 recipes a day, and then finally we waited for the publisher to do their magic and turn it into an actual book. 

TNH: What is your favorite recipe from the book for a quick meal and/or for a special occasion?

NT: It's so difficult to narrow down to a favorite, or two because I love them all, but if I really had to choose I would say for quick recipes Harissa Caramelized Cabbage over Egg Noodles or Dirty Shrimp and Chickpeas in the Gastra or Chicken Thighs in Tomato Sauce when cooking for friends.

TNH: What are you working on next, another book perhaps?

OT: It was so great the three of us got to work together on something we share such a passion for. However, now we each have our own projects we are working on, which definitely includes more books. Something I'd love to write is a version of Sea Salt and Honey for babies, toddlers, and kids. I was pregnant and had my first child throughout this process, actually in the book’s photographs I am nearly 8 months pregnant. When I started cooking for my son, it was really important to me to experiment with adding herbs and spices to his food just like we do in Sea Salt and Honey, and, of course, I had extra encouragement to do so from my Dad. 

Sea Salt and Honey by Chloe, Olivia, and Nicholas Tsakiris is available online and in bookstores.

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