August 20, 2019
Latest News

Greek haute cuisine, straddling modernity and tradition

 Lefteris Lazaru, the first Greek chef to win a Michelin star for a Greek restaurant in Greece, Athens, June 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/Emma Pons

Lefteris Lazaru, the first Greek chef to win a Michelin star for a Greek restaurant in Greece, Athens, June 11, 2019. EPA-EFE/Emma Pons

By Ana Mora Segura

Athens, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- Cheese and olives abound in Greek cuisine but all meals in the Mediterranean nation share a common ingredient –hospitality.

This notion is as true for a casual family lunch as it is for fine dining in restaurants like Varoulko Seaside, located on the banks of a luxurious marina in the outskirts of Athens, or Hytra, which is perched opposite the Acropolis in the capital.

"Greek cuisine is creative, intelligent and founded on tradition," Lefteris Lazaru, the first chef to be awarded a Michelin star for a Greek restaurant in Greece, told Efe.

He added: "A Greek chef or even a simple cook can cook from memory.

"That's something I've not seen in other known chefs in Europe.

"They bring new techniques but they forget tradition."

In his restaurant, Varoulko Seaside, in his native Piraeus, a port city near the capital, Lazaru offers traditional but creative dishes with a heavy dose of local seafood, which is subject to change depending on the daily catch.

Lazaru began his career working with his father, a ship-chef, at the age of 15.

There he learned to tailor Greek cuisine to the varied palates of those dining on the ships.

Just as Lazaru's menu oozes seaside cuisine, Tasos Mantis's offerings over at Hytra are inextricably linked with fresh produce from the garden.

"The herbs and the flowers are the most important thing in my kitchen," Mantis said.

He added that his dishes begin as a seed and end when the diner consumes the food.

His innovative creations based on herbs, vegetables and flowers plucked from the garden he tends to with his father helped him land his own Michelin star.

In his plot, which overlooks the Gulf of Corinth, Mantis organically grows everything from household spices to unusual flavors like sagebrush or mountain savory.

Edible flowers like pansies, monarda and alyssum, which smells of honey, give color to his delicate dishes.

His love for garden produce came to him as a child but his passion for cooking came to him by accident as a cook during his military service.

The restaurant itself, at the top of the Onassis cultural center, which rises above a sea of buildings in the Greek capital, is flanked by plants and herbs.

With views over to a sun-bathed Acropolis, diners at Hytra can select from a sample menu dishes such as Vitamin Sea with oysters, capers and chives covered with nasturtium flowers or blue Kozani crab in a tartlet of sea buckthorn, carrot, sagebrush and pot marigold.

Despite the general high quality of food and the variation in the cuisine, only five restaurants in Greece boast a Michelin star and none of them have so far been awarded three.

For many of the chefs in Greece, innovation is a long-distance race that must never come at the expense of tradition.

For Lazaru, this is an essential part of his kitchen, where he puts an innovative twist on all his dishes but never in a way that supersedes the roots of a meal.

Credited with popularizing monkfish, which Greek fishermen used to toss back into the sea, Lazaru's menu also helps to make haute cuisine available to a wider audience with affordable pricing.

"I want the restaurant to be accessible to everyone, Greece is going through tough times and I do not want to take this pleasure away from anyone," he said. EFE-EPA


News history
Mammoth fossil 13,000 years old reveals rich paleontology of west Mexico

By Mariana Gonzalez

Son of immigrants travels US delivering crosses for shooting victims

By Jorge Mederos

Breathtaking spots offer tourists birdseye views of Uruguay's capital

By Sarah Yañez-Richards

Soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo admits payment to rape accuser

Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Attorneys representing soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo acknowledged that the Portuguese striker paid $375,000 to a woman...

Hungarians revel in a sea of fragrant blooms

Hungarians reveled in a sea of colour and fragrant blooms to marks the 50th Debrecen Flower Festival.

The winery that uses music as its the star ingredient

By Joan Mas Autonell

Colombia, victim of lucrative exotic animal smuggling

By Claudia Polanco Yermanos

Graffiti festival lights up giant facades in Moscow

By Fernando Salcines

Brazilian gov't mining policy threatens Amazon, indigenous leader says

By Maria Angelica Troncoso

The farm caring for Israel's abandoned animals

A voluntary facility in Israel, The Freedom Farm, is a refuge for animals that have been ejected from the food industry, abused or abandoned. The site has...

Spain's Battle of Flowers floats prepare for parade

By Miguel Ramos

Young faces of Aceh celebrate Indonesia’s independence

Indonesian students in elaborate, colorful costumes walked in a parade during celebrations on Sunday marking the 74th anniversary of Indonesia's...

Indonesia marks independence anniversary with pole race, dancing

Indonesia celebrated its 74th anniversary of independence from the Netherlands on Saturday, a milestone marked with official celebrations, traditional...

"Easy Rider" star Peter Fonda dies

Washington, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- US actor and filmmaker Peter Fonda, who became an international star in 1969 with "Easy Rider," died Friday at his home in...

Quito video art makes viewers reflect on migration, environment and memories

Quito, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- An unprecedented exhibition in the Ecuadorian capital is making viewers reflect on such concepts as migration, the environment and...

Delivery workers unite to protect themselves from Mexico City dangers

By Zoilo Carrillo

Woody Allen wraps up filming of new romantic comedy set in Spain

San Sebastian, Spain, Aug 16 (efe-epa).- American director Woody Allen on Friday completed shooting on his latest movie, a romantic comedy filmed in Spain...

Famous Madrid chef returns to her Dominican roots

By Manuel Perez Bella

Aquarium in South Africa joins WAZA world alliance

The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town recently became a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), a global alliance for zoos, aquariums,...

By Ana Sánchez

Social media backlash erupts in mainland China against Hong Kong protests

By Jesus Centeno and Victor Escribano

A stroll through New York's iconic Madison Square Garden

By Alvaro Celorio

Panama City celebrates 500th anniversary with cake for 4,500 people

Panama City, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- Panama City, the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific coast of North America, on Thursday celebrated its 500th...

Foreign tourism to Mexico up 7 pct. in 1st half of 2019

Mexico City, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Mexico in the first half of 2019 rose 7 percent relative to the same period of...

I agree Welcome to We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.