Nikolaos Tselementes, Greece's original 'Masterchef'

Nikolaos Tselementes: The “Father” of Greek Cookbooks

Most Greek households worldwide have a “Tselemente”, the most popular Greek cookbook named after famous chef Nikolaos Tselementes.

Nikolaos Tselementes, Greece's original 'Masterchef'

The legendary chef from the island of Sifnos studied the art of cooking in Vienna. When he returned to Greece, he started working for many foreign embassies, and the talented visionary also began to share the international cuisine secrets he learned.

Nikolaos Tselementes

Tselementes became widely known through the launch of the monthly magazine “Cooking Guide” which was first published in 1910.

Nikolaos also headed to America, where his talent established him as a chef at some of the finest restaurants. At the same time, he continued his cooking studies, confectionary, and dietetics. Upon returning to Greece in 1932, he published his famous cooking book, "Odigos Mageirikis” (Cooking Guide), the first complete cooking guide in Greek. In 1956, he published his only book in English “Greek Cookery”.

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His cookbooks became every Greek housewife’s cooking bible and a 'must-have' item for every new bride!

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!

Moussaka and Pastitsio as we know them today are thanks to Nikolaos, who taught Greeks worldwide how to add béchamel sauce to these famous Greek dishes.

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Pastitsio

Decades later, Tselementes remains synonymous with cookbooks in Greece, and his recipes are passed on from generation to generation.

The remarkable chef’s legacy is also honoured and celebrated each year at the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival, which takes place on Sifnos every September.

Alongside the direct influence that Tselementes had, the chef also brought an innovative mindset to the food scene in Greece. His hybrid and experimental approach to cooking is one that inspired many modern chefs today. The array of modern fusion restaurants in major Greek cities speaks of Tselementes’ pioneering vision. Locally and internationally, a new generation of Greek chefs is bringing their own Tselementes twist to Greek plates at restaurants such as Vezené in Athens and Mazi in London.

More than 100 years after he began to change how Greeks eat, Nikolaos Tselementes is still as important and influential today as he was then.

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GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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