Meet Chef Krystina Kalapothakos
If you think the name rings a bell, you’re not imagining it! Chef Krystina Kalapothakos has been contributing recipes to our holiday issues for years. We first met her back in 2016, when the well-known author, blogger, and chef shared the story of her first cookbook, Back to My Roots: Sharing Recipes from the Villages of Greece. We’ve so enjoyed working with Krystina over the years, not just for her great enthusiasm and energy, but also for her great love of all things Greek. Her heart and soul live in Greece. Krystina channels her love for the food, traditions, and people of Greece into all she does.
Trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Krystina began in pastry classes. The siren song of Greece was strong, leading her to alter her focus to specialize in Greek food. She completed her externship working as a sous chef on the island of Skiathos. Ultimately, her Le Cordon Blue studies provided her extensive knowledge on not only Greek cuisine, but also Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese, giving her a unique perspective and approach to her preparations.
The California-born Greek traces her roots to the Mani, near Gythio. When we chat, her thoughts quickly move back to her ancestral home, which has had tremendous influence on her, down to the naming of her business – Kouzounas Kitchen. Though many tell her she’s “misspelled kouzina“, she is quick to explain that it’s a nod to her beloved Yiayia Stavroula Kozounas.
“Yiayia was a fabulous cook. It only seemed right,” she stated.
She started her blog, also called Kouzounas Kitchen, in 2013. Since that time, she’s amassed a worldwide following. Her first cookbook was published in 2016. The book explores traditional recipes with her special twist, and was inspired by her grandparents’ village in Mani.
Since then Krystina has traveled to Greece many times, learning new techniques, making new connections, and gaining new inspiration. This past summer, she traveled to Cyprus to consult on a new restaurant concept and visited London to share food techniques and ideas with foodie friends. Through this time, she’d already started on her next cookbook.
With each preparation, each drop of ladi (Greek for olive oil) stirred her Greek soul.
“It was time for the next book,” she shared.
One year in the making, A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul: A New Take on Classic Greek Cuisine, took one year to create. The book features food and traditions from four areas of Greece: Mani, Crete, Thessaloniki, and Athens. She chose these four locations due to her experiences in those areas. Over the three years “on and off” that she lived in Greece, she lived in Athens and Thessaloniki. Mani is her family’s home, and Crete is one of her favorite places on earth. Krystina also combines modern and traditional techniques that give the recipes a new twist.
The book was built around some trial and error cooking some 400 Greek plates and refining them to perfection. The photos are exquisitely shot by her boyfriend, Nestor Z Photography.
Along with sharing recipes and stories of Greece, Krystina wished to add a little extra spice, which makes A Drop of Ladi more than just a Greek cookbook. The secret sauce is the inclusion of more than 20 “inspirational” Greeks who also run businesses”, including WindyCity Greek, Saviolakis Cretan Honey, Kouzouni Olive Oil, UK Master Chef Theo Michaels. Greek Master Chef Adam Kontovas, and others. Additionally, the cover boasts artwork by Greek artist Dora Themelis. All were chosen because they love and promote all things Greek, and freely support each other.
“I wanted to promote Greek family businesses. I wanted to show the world these passionate people who love Greece as much as I do and help to promote other Greeks. Supporting each other is what it’s all about,” she explained.
Of WindyCity Greek’s participation, Krystina said, “I’m so excited that Maria agreed to be featured. We’ve collaborated for years and I love what she does. I also included her family’s recipe for Koulourakia, so don’t miss it!”
REVIEW of A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul
A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul by Chef Krystina Kalapothakos is about the love of Greece – its food, its culture – all with family as the central driving force. The recipes fuse modern and traditional techniques that beginners, as well as seasoned cooks, will appreciate. Follow Krystina on her travels to four difference areas of Greece. She also includes 20+ businesses that share her Hellenic Spirit. While we may sound biased because we’re included, we can truly say that Krystina pours her soul into this work, and her love and passion is evident. We’re grateful to go along on this journey. Come along too – it’s one you won’t soon forget. Add A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul to your collection. It makes a great holiday gift, too!
A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul: A New Take on Classic Greek Cuisine
By: Krystina Kalapothakos
Publisher: Kouzounas Kitchen (October 15, 2019)
Check out recipes by Krystina Kalapothakos in our Special Holiday Issues:
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