Meet the Kouzina Chefs: Chicago’s Best “Twist” Classic Greek Dishes

Rick Spiros The Bento Box

The National Hellenic Museum’s Kouzina is a celebration of Greek food, wine, & culture. Meet the Kouzina chefs — some of Chicago’s best — who’ll serve twists on classic Greek dishes.

Meet the Kouzina chefs

Kouzina, an annual celebration at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago, has become one of the most popular events in Chicago. Each year, it evolves, and there is always something new and exciting. It sells out every year.

Friends, music, beer and wine, and of course food, highlight the celebration. Chicago’s top chefs have come together to present their twists on classic Greek dishes. Combine their creativity and expertise, with a passion for cooking, and a love for Greek cuisine, and you get an incredible array of imaginative — and delicious — treats.


Related: ‘Kalofagas’ Peter Minaki is Honorary Chair at Kouzina


Let’s meet two new Kouzina chefs!


At Kouzina, Chef Rick Spiros of The Bento Box will put an Asian spin on Greek cuisine.


Rick Spiros – The Bento Box

The Bento Box’s Executive Chef/Owner Rick Spiros is a newcomer to Kouzina and is thrilled to be part of it. Of Greek and Italian heritage, it’s surprising to find he’s one of Chicago’s Asian food masters. His Zagat-rated The Bento Box has earned rave reviews in Time Out, Chicago Magazine, and Red Eye. Chef Rick has channeled his passion for Asian food into creating a unique experience for his customers. Asian food enthusiasts have flocked to his restaurant, lining up for his made-from-scratch, hand-pounded curries and signature dumplings.

Chef Rick spoke about putting a Greek spin on Asian cuisine.

“I automatically thought I’ll do a spin on Indian cuisine. I will be serving a goat dish, along with cucumber raita, which is that cuisine’s answer to tzatziki.” 

Be sure to visit him at Kouzina and give it a try.


At Kouzina, Chef Andrés Barerra from City Winery will add some Greek-inspired flair to a classic Mexican dish.


Andrés A. Barrera – City Winery

Chef Andrés Barrera is City Winery’s Executive Chef/National Director of Kitchen & Brand Development. He said he was inspired to cook by watching the masters on TV — chefs like Jeff Smith, Martin Yan, Julia Childs, Jack Tripper, and the Swedish Chef. At the age of 10 he sought his first cooking lessons from the matriarchs in his family.

“They taught me the comforting properties of a meal. They showed me food should feed the mind and soul as well as satiate the appetite.”

He studied French and Italian cuisine at The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. From there it was on to NYC for 13 years, where he honed his skills at some of the city’s top restaurants. He’s done everything from slinging pizzas at Franny’s in Brooklyn, to winning Time Out New York’s “Best Burger in the City” award at Rare Bar & Grill, to perfecting his techniques at the famed Capital in NYC. He brought all these experiences and influences to City Winery, where he has created a menu inspired by wine, influenced by global comfort foods, and sourced locally.

Chef Andrés is a Kouzina newbie, and he’s very excited to be there this year.

“City Winery is located very near Greektown. As neighbors we should be supporting one another to succeed in something as important as exposing the public to the delicious flavors of Greece as well as educating everyone in a culture and cuisine they may not be familiar with.”

He became fascinated with Greek cuisine at a young age.

“It was when I saw my first flaming saganaki and heard the entire restaurant cry out “OPA!!!”  I find myself revisiting the flavors of the Mediterranean and letting them wash over and influence my own creations.”

At Kouzina, Chef Andrés is excited to present a dish that’s a Greek twist on a favorite dish from his Mexican culture. He’s looking forward to sharing a bit of his culture as well. Check it out!


Related: ZEOS Greek Beer to Make Midwest Debut at Kouzina


Meet the Kouzina chefs: Some of Chicago’s best

Space precludes us from tell you all about these amazing chef’s. Click on their websites to learn more, and meet them at Kouzina.


Meet Kouzina chefs: Dessert

No Greek celebration is complete without glyka (dessert)! Look for luscious creations from these pastry chefs:

Kouzina 2016 National Hellenic Museum

Don’t miss Kouzina

Call it a “foodie’s delight”, a “foodie’s paradise,” or just “a great party”, Kouzina provides a unique culinary experience within a celebration of the food, wine, and culture of Greece. One of the hottest events of the year, it always sells out. Don’t miss Kouzina, on November 3, 2016.


The National Hellenic Museum is located at 333 S. Halsted in Chicago’s Greektown. 312.655.1234. 

WindyCity Greek is a media sponsor for Kouzina 2016

Updated: This event took place November 3, 2016

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