Brianna Koucos Midgely shares her yiayia’s legacy through recipe book

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By Eleni Patsalides.

Like the best life lessons, you’ll find most come from yiayia while she’s in the kitchen cooking something up. This is a memory that Brianna Koucos Midgely holds close to her heart.

After losing her yiayia, Brianna found that writing about all the stories and lessons she had passed down to her helped her cope with the loss.

In an interview with The Greek Herald, Brianna details how these stories came to be the inspiration behind her book series, Yiayia’s Kitchen.

Greek American Children’s Book Author Brianna Koucos Midgely

Tell us about yourself.


I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. My parents were born to Greek and Greek- American parents here in Utah, so my family has been here for multiple generations. Our Greek roots are in Argos, Crete, and Sparta. We were raised in a very vibrant and active Greek community, so I was a part of the performing dance group, attended Sunday School, Greek School, and GOYA activities; and for a while was the only girl on the GOYA basketball team.

I was raised to be knowledgeable of my Greek Orthodox Faith and proud of my Greek heritage. It’s a huge part of who I am and what I have ended up doing professionally as an author and online store owner. I love to cook and am really enjoying passing those life skills on to my 4-year-old daughter. 

Kids love the ‘Yiayia’s Kitchen’ series, beautifully illustrated by Anita Boeira. Photo: BRIT BENNION


Tell us about your journey to writing.

I have always enjoyed writing and wrote for high school publications, oratorical festivals, that type of thing, but never considered myself an author. When Yiayia Fay (the subject of the stories) passed away, I started writing down stories, memories, and experiences. It was a way to process losing her, but then I realised they might be stories people could relate to and enjoy, whether they came from Greek heritage or not.

Anyone who had an adult in their life who invested in them can connect with these stories because they are about someone who takes time to share lessons and love with the children in their lives. So, I started thinking about what it would look like to write children’s stories. Over 20 years later, the technology to publish independently existed and I found an illustrator. I decided when my daughter was born, I’d stay home with her, but I was also going to finish the books. So, my daughter gave me the gift of being a mom and an author. It’s very special. 

Recipes from Yiayia’s Kitchen will become a treasured family heirloom to pass through the generations, like a time capsule of your Greek family history. Photo: JESS SADE


What is the inspiration behind the books?


Yiayia Fay showed love through teaching, kindness, respect, and treating others with grace. I learned so much from her about cooking, Greek recipes, and the importance of family. I felt like what she taught me—and the way she taught me—was worth sharing far and wide. 

In the Recipes from Yiayia’s Kitchen journal find some specially designed pages to document your family’s version of Greek classics. Photo: JESS SADE PHOTOGRAPH


How do you think your Greek heritage influences your writing and your stories?

It’s part of who I am so it of course, shines through in the stories, but I think it comes through in ways I probably don’t realise. My Greek Orthodox faith is incredibly important to me. It has shaped me, and I think that probably comes through in the stories just as much as the food and lessons that are highlighted in the stories. 


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I also sell a curated selection of custom gifts to go along with the books, and my readers love to bundle the gifts with the books. It’s just another way to share that amazing grandparent-grandchild connection. 

Brianna sells a curated selection of gifts to complement the books. Photo: BRIT BENNION

For those who have considered writing and sharing their stories, please do. It’s not easy, it’s not simple, but it’s worth it. People connect to stories even if their experiences weren’t the same as yours. For those whose stories are similar it gives them something to celebrate, to share, and to pass down to other generations. So, don’t let the challenges or question marks keep you from sharing the stories you want to tell. 

Thank you for this opportunity! The books and gifts have garnered quite a following in Australia and it’s a pleasure to connect with you and my readers across the globe. Visit me at https://yiayiaskitchenchildrensbooks.com/

Among the gift items Brianna sells on her website, is this super cute apron. Photo: JESS SADE PHOTOGRAPHY

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