The food conundrum

'What's for dinner?'
 Providing the answer to this simple question is getting increasingly complicated.  Even a quick glance at the daily news turns every meal into an experience fraught with uncertainty and guilt. Because almost everything turns out to be bad for the health, or the environment, or both.

Meat is high in fats and cholesterol and stuffed with antibiotics and hormones.
– Fish is full of metal deposits and also guilt-inducing due to overfishing. Sushi is particularly to blame for the depletion of the oceans. Another minus is that, according to a recent article, fish are eating minute particles of plastic – it seems that plastic smells good when mixed with seawater – and this ends up in their tissues.
Vegetables and fruit are riddled with pesticides, unless they are organic.
Dairy products are to be totally avoided, being indigestible and artery-clogging. Cheese, in particular, is maligned as being tantamount to poison.
– Sadly, almond milk, which is a good substitute for dairy, is terrible for the environment, since its production uses up huge amounts of water.
– Anything ‘white’ and ‘refined’, such as flour, pasta and rice, should be avoided like the plague. Only the wholemeal varieties will do, if that.



There is very little one can be sure about:
Wine, in small quantities, appears to be good for you – until you read the next study, which has now discovered it is bad (or is it good again?) The same goes for chocolate (black, of course) and coffee.
Eggs are terrible for cholesterol levels – BUT I just read an article that it is now considered advisable to eat up to ten a week.                                                                                              – Seafood is also high in cholesterol, with the added environmentally-unfriendly aura connected with fish (see depletion of oceans, above).
– We can’t even count on spirits to raise our spirits (pardon the awful pun). A lovely mojito, a vodka tonic, a drop of whisky – out of the question. Not should any morsel of dessert (brownies, ice cream, cake) pass our lips. I did, however, read an article that gin is good for the health.
– And salt? Is salt good or bad? Opinion differs here too.



There are also practical matters to be considered:
– Should you eat breakfast, or can you skip it? I recently read that it’s okay, even beneficial, to do the latter, although up to now we were taught to ‘breakfast like a king…’ etc. etc.
Juicing helps with getting your five-a-day, but breaks down the fibers in the fruit and veggies. So better not.

And moral ones:
I admit I’m a terrible hypocrite, since I enjoy a lamb chop as much as the next person, but would probably be a total vegetarian if I had to kill the said lamb myself. However, I feel like screaming when I hear vegetarians self-righteously proclaim they still eat butter and cheese, ‘because no animals get killed in the process.’ When I try to explain the basic facts of agriculture, they just don’t seem to get it. I have good friends who keep repeating the same argument every time food is discussed.

So, what the devil are we supposed to eat?

As far as I can see, that leaves seeds (chia, sesame) pulses (chickpeas…) and insects (which are full of protein and totally devoid of fat). The Swiss are about to stack supermarket shelves with food made from mealworms, which are the larval form of the mealworm beetle. We’re talking ‘burgers’, made by a startup called Essento, in which the mealworms are combined with vegetables, herbs and spices. Sound yummy? Their byword is ‘delicious insects.’

Apparently, fried crickets and grasshoppers are also tasty and crunchy, I suppose as a substitute for potato chips, which are notoriously bad for the health. According to the experts, insects have a high culinary potential, their production saves resources and their nutritional profile is high-quality. They are the perfect complement to a modern diet.


On the strength of the above, I have compiled a menu for a dinner party:

Drinks: Gin and tonic (gin is good for you, right? Unless a new survey comes out before the evening in question, saying the contrary). Crispy fried locusts and organic carrot sticks.

Starter: Organic quinoa with kale chips and sliced raw radishes. I actually had this made for me by a friend, and it was surprisingly tasty.

Main course: Mealworms ‘burgers’ with raw cauliflower ‘risotto’. The latter is a recipe favored by vegans, but I confess I’ve never had it – I love cauliflower, but eating it raw instead of rice – not so much.

Desert: I need to find a recipe that avoids eggs, sugar and flour – probably something made with oats and fruit and sweetened with stevia. As if life was not complicated enough…

One must not forget to be extra careful because of people’s allergies to nuts, gluten or even strawberries. Thus the planning of a simple dinner has been turned into a major strategic exercise – what with reading up on the latest developments and finding the ingredients (although some might be captured in the garden?)

Perhaps the answer is to eat everything, but stop reading? Because it never ends. Today, I read an article about antibiotics. It seems doctors now are not sure which to prescribe, because of resistance and allergies. Also they disagree about whether you should finish the whole course, or stop taking them as soon as you feel better.

I rest my case.

Bon appetit, everyone!


October Q&A – the Chef

Petros Koryzis came to cooking in a rather roundabout way. At the moment he is working in the family pastry shop, Cake & Cookie Co., who are famous for their 100% homemade goodies. They sell out of their tiny shop, but work mainly on orders, and cater events such as kid’s parties or christenings. Petros also does catering on his own or with friends, for parties and events of all kinds.

Tell us a little about yourself

After school I went to college in the United States, where I studied Italian and Economics. Then I went to London and worked for Starbucks for almost two years, completing their management course. I decided that the service sector was something I liked, but not that specific job. Brainstorming with friends, I realized the restaurant industry was what I was most interested in, so I went to the Cordon Bleu London school where I acquired the Grand Diplôme which included cooking and patisserie.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking. The hardest part to control in a restaurant is the kitchen, so I decided to start there. I spent about 7 years working in various kitchens in London, starting with an internship at Hybiscus Michelin star restaurant. I then moved around, getting experience in bistrot-style, Italian, and Mediterranean food and ending up at Buddha-Bar, which specializes in Pacific Rim cooking.
At some point I decided to come back to Greece to help my mother who had opened a pastry shop, which has now become a mother-and-son affair! Once here I also developed a catering side-line with other friends.

What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?

Returning to Greece was something I’d always wanted, although London afforded more immediate possibilities. Despite Greece’s problems I always felt there was the potential to do something in the food industry. After all, it is my home, and my life here gave me an edge. In London the competition is vast and it’s a hub, where you get the best of the best. Here I have personal contacts and even today many of my clients are people I went to school with and their friends and families, and I’ve met many more through them.


Did anyone help or inspire you?

At Cordon Bleu they kept telling us that our choice of career was hard and offered little financial benefit. They taught us a lot about discipline and organization, which was useful as I’m not usually one to take the difficult route! Also one of the hardest kitchens I worked in taught me that this job can be a test of humility. Like in any job 90% is difficult and boring and it’s the 10% which makes it worth it. In my case the 10% makes it really worth it
A major inspiration were  Peter and Hiili, the couple who were executive head chef and head chef at Buddha-Bar when I worked there. They’d met at Nobu, stuck together and risen together. They loved their job and managed to make it work. They were the chefs that opened Buddha-Bar London, and are now married with a lovely little girl. Having a woman head chef was a best case scenario for me because the kitchen ran very smoothly.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?

Ideal scenario would be to put together a group of chefs and build a team which would enable me to partly move out of the kitchen and have a choice in the catering jobs I do personally. I’d like to groom and grow others to do it properly. I think that Greece has excellent chefs who are highly skilled but perhaps do not have the disciple to offer what abroad would be seen as upscale catering. An example being the state in which some leave the kitchen at the end of the night. I’m not interested so much in the grand scale of things, but in private ‘cheffing’ at a normal price. To provide a level of quality which would be consistent and ensure repeat customers.
One of the difficulties to be faced, for example, are the waiters. There are plenty of waiters in Greece but it isn’t considered on the whole a respected profession. They are mostly people who do this as a stopgap, or a stepping stone. Having met a few who are truly professional, I’d like to form waiters who know exactly what the clients want and how to provide it.
One of the most interesting things in catering is that I get to go into houses and take over! I get to see people in their family environment, with the kids the dog, and I love being part of this, as well as delivering the food.

What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope /would you like to see?

I hope that Greece will manage to get through this period of turmoil and unrest, although I fear the unrest has not reached its climax yet. My main hope would be that we all together start thinking as a group, instead of as individuals.
In Greece we have the classic example of ‘envying the neighbor’s goat’. I don’t think this is wrong per se: people should want to acquire a goat like the neighbor’s, or a whole herd of goats, in the sense of bettering themselves. To make and have more, we have to understand that we all need to benefit, and we need to work together, in order to better the current psychology, and so that the markets and infrastructure pick up..


Petros with his mother in their shop, Cake&cookie Co.
Petros with his mother in their shop, Cake&Cookie Co.


Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why? If you have decided to leave what would make you stay?

I think of leaving every day! But I don’t think it would make a difference to my situation at this point, unless I get a very well-paid job. Leaving the country wouldn’t solve anything. Staying here and fighting for what I believe in and working with others I hope I may even, in a small way, be able to help.
If I left the obvious place would be London, because I know it well and I could get a job tomorrow. However I would love to work in France for a while.

Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?

I’d love to think that just by going to work every day and doing my best I’m helping! I do believe that by staying and working with others I give something to the whole.
Would I like to do something more? Yes – my problem being I have no idea what that would be. I’m not one for taking to arms or politics.

How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?

I don’t see much happening in five, to be honest. In ten, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to see some positive change.

How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life?

By venting! I have discovered in the last 5-6 years that I have a short temper, which, growing up, I never did. So I vent, not always on the right person. And by dancing! Sometimes out with friends, sometimes alone in my room.

What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good experiences lately?

Not to sound corny, but I still believe Greece is one of the greatest countries in the world. Geographically and geologically we have everything, mountains and sea and climate. However, I also believe that we have good people in Greece.
Something my job affords me is to see people as they are at home; they are fathers, and mothers, and hard workers.
Thanks to the store and the human contact we have with the customers, I experience  the everyday reactions to the ongoing problems and I see that everyone has to wake up in the morning and smile. There’s still good in Greece – people who want change, people who enjoy the good things going on in their life, like births, marriages… I love to travel by car, and all you need to do is go into a small village anywhere in Greece and you’ll see what Greek hospitality is all about.

For those of you living in Greece, Petros can be contacted on: or the numbers +30 210 8078169 and +30 6946468882

Although I’m sure he’d love to be asked to go and cook in Australia or elsewhere, as long as he gets a plane ticket (first class, of course!)