Every Greek household has a “tselemente,” a “cookbook” that took its name after Nikolaos Tselementes, the famous chef that combined modern cuisine with Greek tradition.
Born in 1878, Nikolaos Tselementes hailed from the Cycladic island of Sifnos.
However, the aspiring chef did not stay on Sifnos and went to Athens before leaving Greece to train as a chef in Vienna and America, where he worked at leading establishments such as the St. Moritz Hotel in New York.
On his return to Greece, he published his first cooking book, Odigos Mageirikis (Cooking Guide), which became a national and international sensation and was the first complete cooking guide in Greek.
It had over fifteen official reprints during the following decades.
In 1956 he published his only book in English, “Greek Cookery”.
The chef also started a small cooking school in Athens, directly passing on his techniques to bright young cooks in the Athens food industry.
The chef’s legacy is celebrated with the annual Cycladic Gastronomy Festival that takes place on Sifnos every year.
The three-day event brings together the best of Greece’s cooks.
More than 100 years after he began to change the way Greeks eat, he is still as important and influential today as he was then.
Tselementes was famous for combining Greek and French cuisine, and showed Greeks how to prepare béchamel sauces, pirozhkies, bouillabaisse sauce and to add vinaigrette to dishes, as well as many more tips and ideas on how to cook!
Tselementes died on March 2nd 1958, in Athens, at the age of 80.