A Greek Chef’s Guide to Greek Food
Slow-cooked lamb, roasted vegetables and lots of olive oil and cheese make Greek cuisine one of the most delicious — and healthiest! — in the world. But while we love gyros, the international idea of Greek food is woefully limited.
To help our readers expand their horizons, we spoke to Giannis, the person behind the Real Greek Chef. Yes, he actually is a real Greek chef. And he has plenty of recommendations for things you'll want to try.
Dig into the most delicious Greek food dishes — and their recipes.
Meet Our Greek Food Expert
Hailing from a small town in Greece, Giannis (who prefers not to use his last name) moved to Athens as a teenager to learn how to be a chef. At only 19, he opened his first food business.
Although he's worked in all kinds of restaurants, he thinks Greek food is simply the best on the planet. After settling in Australia with his wife, Fotini, he decided to bring the kind of Greek food that he would eat at his mother's and grandmother's house.
The secret to his success? Using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and cooking slowly over wood.
He now works as a consultant chef for restaurants and events, while also sharing delicious recipes on his YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok channels.
Here are some of his top recommendations.
If you've never had gemista (or yemista), don't feel bad. For reasons unknown, the dish isn't very popular outside of Greece. Inside the country, however, it's a staple in households and neighborhood taverns. For Giannis, it's one of the best Greek plates. Period.
It's made by stuffing vegetables like tomatoes and baking them until soft.
While meat can be used as stuffing, Giannis says he prefers vegetables as stuffing.
Follow this recipe from My Greek Dish to get it just right.
Our mouth starts watering every time someone mentions kleftiko. To make this dish, you place lamb inside cooking paper and roast it slowly for hours with cheese and vegetables.
This is one of Gianni's favorite dishes, as he says that the meat almost melts when you eat it.
Check out Gianni's kleftiko recipe in this handy video.
Stifado or stifatho is a stew with meat cooked in tomato sauce. It's usually accompanied by large pieces of onion stewed until they're soft.
Rabbit, chicken, beef or seafood can be used. Though Giannis specifically recommends wild pork stifado.
Learn how to make this generous and delicious one-pot dish with this BBC Good Foods recipe.
Giannis was hesitant at first to mention moussaka. Not because he doesn't love it but because he felt that everyone already knows it.
After gyros, moussaka may just be the most well-known Greek dish. It certainly is one of Europe's most delicious foods. Often called Greek lasagna, the most famous version uses eggplant as the base. It is stuffed with vegetables and beef and then topped with a generous layer of bechamel sauce.
Some people think pastitsio and moussaka are basically the same. But while the principal may be similar, pastitsio uses pasta like macaroni, penne or rigatoni, and that makes all the difference.
It's usually stuffed with ground meat and, yes, it's topped with bechamel sauce as well. The base makes for a crunchy texture that perfectly complements the melted cheese.
Follow Giannis' tutorial to make a pastitsio that will have people asking for the recipe.
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