What really put Greek cuisine right in the centre of world gastronomy was the appearance, from New York to Melbourne, of chefs of Greek origin. Greek chefs abroad challenged the traditional cooking methods, techniques, forms and presentation with which Greek food is usually associated and served it in fascinating new ways yet maintaining, in almost a mystical way, its authentic essence. Even though Greek food was transformed into something that even Greeks did not recognize, this New Greek Cuisine intrigued world gourmands. The clichés about greasy Greek food or the snobbism of the foodies is now being replaced by respect and interest. Up until now, the accolades had gone only to the new wines of Greece, which have adorned even the most demanding wine lists of renowned, world-class restaurants. Now, New Greek cuisine takes centre stage.
Two Greek chefs abroad are in the limelight right now. Michael Psilakis in the USA and the George Kalombaris in Australia, have taken Greek cuisine to a new level of sophistication. Inspired by memories of traditional food cooked in the kitchens of their childhood and by their nostalgia for the sun-drenched flavours of Greece, they both reinvented Greek cuisine in unique ways. Kalombaris, in his restaurant “The Press Club” in Melbourne, marinates his bread in a concoction tasting like choriatiki that brings to mind summers in the Cycladic islands or serves a “dust” of kokoretsi in celebration of Greek Easter. Psilakis, with equal nostalgia for the Greek summer, creates dishes in his “Anthos” and “Kefi” restaurants in New York, that brilliantly combine botan ebi shrimps with watermelon and feta soup or transforms “tzatziki” into a dessert that takes the shape of a cucumber consommé with caramelized lemon, yogurt and dill.
It is the welcome legacy of this revolution of Greek cuisine abroad, brought by talented Greek chefs abroad, that food-savvy people, who now enjoy Greek cuisine and wine in a completely new and far more attractive way than in the retsina soaked Greek diners of yesteryear, rarely smash plates or glasses on the floor, lest they miss the fascinating flavours of a new Greece served in them.