Something’s Cooking in Athens

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Discovering Athens’ blossoming food and drink scene can offer endless joy to your tastebuds, but there’s a delicious satisfaction that comes from creating an amazing meal with your own hands too. Several top-quality cooking schools now offer cooking enthusiasts, foodies and amateur cooks alike the chance to discover Greek ingredients, recipes and culinary skills taught by expert chefs. We don our chef’s hat and apron and head off to get cooking!

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Adults and children can now choose among top-quality cooking classes exploring the flavoursome traditions of Greek gastronomy

cookery club the chefs table

My moussaka is (almost) better than Yiayia’s!

Whether you are a visitor who wants to enjoy a three-hour cooking class alone or in a group, or a resident who wants to get serious about creating magic in the kitchen, the Culinary Centre & Cooking School on Vouliagmenis Ave has since 2013 designed several programmes. With modern, well-equipped cooking facilities and making the best of quality, seasonal Greek ingredients, the school addresses both ‘Enthusiasts’ and ‘Professionals’. For the prior category it can create tailor-made programmes lasting one (three-hour) session or a small course, based on the exact things you want to learn; alternately if you are set on learning how to make moussaka better than mama, they can concoct a tailor-made programme. In both cases the cooking session always ends with a meal in which you eat what you created, and wine tastings can also be added on.

The Professionals programme is aimed exclusively at serious cooks and wannabe chefs, offering foundation, intensive and advanced cooking and pastry courses and the option of gaining pro certificates.

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Yoleni’s flagship store in Kolonaki also offers daily cooking classes on its third floor (where Olive Oil tasting classes also take place)

On 3ο floor of Yoleni's Greek Gastronomy Center, Dina Nicolaou, their award-winning chef and ambassador in Paris - in 2017 her restaurant Evi Evane took the top spot when Gilles Pudlowski, creator of the French gastronomy guide Publo Paris, raises it to the first step of the podium, giving it the great distinction of "The best restaurant of foreign cuisine in Paris" - he delivers lessons to those who love food and want to discover new paths of taste.

At Yoleni's Cooking Classes, Dina Nikolaou introduces us to many secrets of Greek gastronomy, she introduces us to great Greek producers as well as unique recipes for dishes and desserts.

Third Floor: Yoleni's Cooking Classes by Dina Nikolaou

With an emphasis on Greek cooking, but mainly local products, "tasting trips" are organized and unique products from small producers are recommended, wines from individual wine producers in thematic specials or harmonious marriages of food and wine.

At the same time, invited friends of taste, Greek chefs, tasters, journalists and restaurateurs give their "lights", their knowledge and their experiences to the students of the "school".

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 Little chefs

But what about the little ones? Isn’t learning how to cook one of the most fun, engaging and educational things they can do (not to mention a fun activity to savour together?) Certainly, and that’s why the Kids Cooking Club was created, hosting school groups (with around 15,000 participants per year!) and cooking parties, open food-centred events as well as ongoing cooking classes in the Baby Chef, Junior Chef, Kids Chef and Top Chef categories. The director and coordinator of the club, Maria Mela, who also runs Kallitehnoupoli says “The school, which is considered the best in Greece and among the top in Europe,  gifts kids with the valuable understanding of where foods come from, how they shape society and above all, what their nutritional value offers. How does food affect us? What does it offer our body and mind? They need to develop a way to discern what food offers on all levels.”

Between June and August, the Cooking Club even runs a Summer Camp for children aged 6-16, which can be attended as many days of the week or weeks of the month as parents choose. Experienced chef teachers guide small groups of children through practical yet fun and fully interactive techniques as well as building their theoretical understanding of how food is produced and its cultural significance. Children are inspired to set free their creativity and ingenuity while practising using their fine motor, concentration, cooperation, patience and logic skills.  “We hope our students can develop a more sophisticated way of seeing the world through food, which is in our life every day, and that’s only the starting point,” Mela says.

Alexia Amvrazi

Alexia Amvrazi enjoys the thrill of discovering beauty in the world around her. With a passionately hands-on approach to Greece's travel, gastronomy, holistic living, culture, innovation and creativity, for 20 years she has explored and shared her findings with the world on all aspects of the country and its people via writing, radio, blogs and videos. Although her childhood and early youth in Italy, Egypt and England left her feeling somewhat root-less, she is by now firmly connected to her native land, bravely weathering the hurricane known as the Greek crisis!

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