Remembering the influential Greek chef, Nikolaos Tselementes

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We take a look back at the incredible life achievements of Greece’s first ‘Masterchef’ and teacher of cooking and confectionery, Nikolaos Tselementes.

Early Life:

Nikolaos Tselementes was born in 1878 in the village of Exabela in Sifnos and grew up in Athens, where he finished high school. Initially, he worked as a notary and then as a cook, working in his uncle’s restaurant. He studied cooking for a year in Vienna and on his return, worked as a chef in various embassies.

Career as a Chef:

Greece’s first ‘Masterchef’ and teacher of cooking and confectionery, Nikolaos Tselementes.

Nikolaos became famous with the magazine “Cooking Guide,” which began publishing in 1910 and contained recipes, dietary advice, international cuisine and news about cooking. 

In 1919, he became the director of the “Hermes” hotel. The following year he left for America, where he worked in some of the most expensive restaurants in the world, while also studying cooking, confectionery and diet.

In April 1926, Nikolaos’ book “Cooking and Confectionery Guide” was published, making it the first complete cooking guide in Greece. The book was a great success and was reprinted more than fifteen times in the following decades. 

Nikolaos returned permanently to Athens and founded a small school of cooking and confectionery. In 1950, he published a book in Greek about Greek cooking called “Greek Cookery.”

Nikolaos was heavily influenced by French cuisine.

Influenced by French cuisine, Nikolaos was a moderniser of Greek cuisine, as through him Greek housewives learned béchamel, pirozhki and bouillabaisse, which according to some was tantamount to falsifying Greek cuisine.

Death and Legacy:

Nikolaos died on March 2, 1958 in Athens, at the age of 80. His name is now synonymous with cooking guides, and is also used as a joke to someone who knows how to cook very well.

Honoring his memory and contribution to Greek gastronomy, the journalist, playwright and academic, Spyros Melas, dedicated a commendation to him in the newspaper “Eleftheria” in the issue of March 5, 1958.

Source: San Simera.

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