SPIROS KASSELOURIS: “I CAN’T IMAGINE SUMMER WITHOUT SEAFOOD OR FRESH VEGETABLES”

Spiros Kasselouris began working on the stove in 2007 and, since then, has passed through the kitchens of different restaurants in his native country, Greece.

He currently serves as s OUS chef of Selene in Gerakas (Athens) and also debuts as a contestant S.Pellegrino Young Chef.

For the regional final, he has set his sights on the island of Santorini, the highest representation of summer in the Hellenic couChef.ntry. Ingredients such as squid, saffron, tomato, caper, fava or fennel from the sea, local products that are part of Greek gastronomic history, are mixed on its plate.

Greek dishes are made all over the world. What is this kitchen based on?

Greek cuisine is based on the local products of this country and on the love of the people who created and continues to create their tradition, which is transmitted from generation to generation. Due to the geographical position and as a Mediterranean country, we have many ingredients throughout the year, which are perfected with simple combinations. For example, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, fresh or dried oregano herbs, peppermint, basil, parsley and aged aromatic vinegars from various local wineries.

There are also three ingredients that we use almost in everything and that are onion, garlic, and thyme. We use many spices such as cinnamon, bay leaves, allspice berries, peppercorns, dried cloves, star anise, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, etc.

Could you tell us what are the typical dishes?

Surely there are influences from neighboring countries such as Italy, Asia and the Balkans, but they are mainly based on Greek culture. Personally, I think it’s wrong to show only mousakas and souvlaki as Greek cuisine, since there are many foods with history, such as fava, a type of pea whose cultivation began 3,500 years ago.

My childhood memories are from a village in Epirus, Arta, where my paternal grandmother used to make hortopita -empanada- and briam with wild vegetables, vegetables, and herbs from her garden and baked in a wood oven. Also, I remember that my maternal grandmother, who was from Macedonia with Anatolian roots, used to make soutzoukakia, smyrneika, dolmadakia, polita artichokes, l ahanodolmades, baklava and halva with rose, cinnamon and raisins.

This is the first time you introduce yourself to S.Pellegrino Young Chef, are you nervous?

It is the first time that I participate in this contest and it has been a great honor and pleasure. My purpose is to represent the traditional cuisine of my country and have the opportunity to travel to other places and cultures.

What do you intend to represent with your elaboration?

Each season in Greece has its own unique and magical dining experience since each area has a different tradition. Summer means sun, sea, and islands full of treasures of good taste. My proposal is focused on Santorini, an island of the Cyclades. There you can find many amazing ingredients, traditional flavors, aromas and a rich culture that optimizes local food. I can’t imagine summer without seafood, fresh vegetables, and delicious flavors. Ingredients such as squid, tomato, caper, fava, sea fennel, samphire crithmum, elder’s flower, thyme, ouzo, saffron are for me a simulation of summer in Greece and that’s why I chose Santorini. This is my way for this trip.

How will you try to surprise the demanding jury formed by Fina Puigdevall, Lucia Freitas or Henrique Sa Pessoa, Georgianna Hiliadaki or Yossi Shitrit?

What I think will undoubtedly impress the judges is the raw material, the fresh ingredients, the aromatic herbs, the combinations of flavors, the techniques used and the history I represent.

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