Peter Minaki Launches New “One Pot” Cookbook
Peter Minaki has long been passionate about his Greek roots. Born and raised in Toronto to Greek immigrants for Florina in Northern Greece, he’s a regular visitor.
“My father is from Amynteon and my mother is from the neighboring village of Agios Panteleimon,” he said. The self-taught chef, food blogger, and cookbook author shares that love each and every day and is always looking for new and innovative ways to promote the food of his culture. His latest cookbook, The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook, came out last month.
Peter and I became acquainted in 2009, while I was the Associate Editor of The Greek Star newspaper in Chicago, and met when he came to town for a restaurant takeover. Since that time, he’s returned to co-chair Kouzina at National Hellenic Museum, and we were fortunate to have dinner with him when my family visited Toronto. Of course, he took us to an amazing Greek restaurant and had some fantastic foodie recommendations for us in his home city.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to interview him several times. And I must confess right now, his first book, The Everything Mediterranean Cookbook (Adams Media, 2013) became a quick favorite and is still one of my go-to cookbooks. Knowing and appreciating his passion for Greek food, I always cheer when he releases a new book, and was thrilled to learn about this one. Before I tell you about the book, I thought it would be fun to tell you more about him. Read on!
Finding his passion
Believe it or not, Peter did not attend culinary school. He’s entirely self-taught, no doubt with a little inspiration from his late mother and his frequent trips to Greece. But he didn’t learn to cook with the thought of writing a blog or a cookbook. Not even to do catering or events.
“It all began when my parents bought our summer home in Halkidiki back in 1989,” Peter explained. “The following summer my brother and I were left to tend to ourselves and eventually I craved home-cooked meals again. I entered the kitchen to cook for myself. Now, I cook for friends, clients/guests. Sometimes they call me ‘Chef’.”
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From hobby to vocation
As the story goes, Peter had established a career as an investment banker. But in 2012, he got laid off. He calls it a blessing because the financial world did not bring him joy. Sharing his twists on Greek recipes, exploring the world of Greek cuisine, and cooking did. And the rest as they say, is history.
“After writing the blog for a few years, people started asking me to cater and prepare meals for them. I answered the call. Food found me.”
Soon, he began teaching classes and hosting Kalofagas Supper Clubs. Initially, he hosted these events in the Toronto area, partnering with restaurants to “takeover” for the evening. It’s become a favorite of Greek food lovers throughout Toronto. For this, Peter selects a theme or region, and plans a menu based on food and ingredients of that area, and serves as guest chef for that evening. These events became so popular in Toronto, he received requests to come to other cities. To date, he’s hosted Kalofagas Supper Club events in New York, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Chicago. He plans to visit more cities in the near future.
In Toronto, he regularly hosts pop-up dinners and classes at St. Lawrence Market, which in itself is a must-see if you’re in town.
Why Greek food?
I’ve asked Peter this question over the years, and he always goes back to his love of his culture, and desire to educate people and share it with the world. In a previous interview, he revealed his frustration as to the way Greek food had been characterized and what he’d do differently.
“I didn’t like the way Greek cuisine was being presented. People think that we eat souvlaki every day; that Greek salad is made with iceberg lettuce. Who better than a Greek person to share that our cuisine goes way beyond that?” He added that there are “1000 ways to make spanakopita” and over the years, “people have become more open to trying new things.”
In 2007, he started his popular blog, Kalofagas, which means gourmet in Greek. There, he not only shares recipes, but also travel stories.
The longtime foodie once told me that he likes to be creative and try new things and will improvise. He loves highlighting the differences in the cuisine from region to region, whether it’s seasonal cooking or an adaption based on local herbs and spices, because there’s so much to explore.
Peter adds modern twists but reminds us that Greek food is steeped in tradition. “At the end of the day, it should still taste like Greek food. If you made Moussaka, Yiayia should be able to try it and know that it’s Moussaka”.
For Peter, every experience provides inspiration. He learns from other cooks and often frequents Greek and Mediterranean restaurants. He added that he always visits farmer’s markets, because there’s always something new and something spurs an idea. Peter also spends several months a year in Greece for travel and research.
“I go to Greece every summer to reconnect with relatives and friends and I always try to visit parts of Greece that are new to me. Visits to Athens and Thessaloniki are always on the itinerary. Before I go, I make notes on interesting restaurants to visit. Sometimes I go to wineries and other times I go to a restaurant on a whim. Though I always have goals, it’s also a vacation, and I don’t get annoyed if plans get sidelined. Halara, as we like to say in Northern Greece!”
His relaxed approach leaves space for new adventures and new learning, which always fuels his creativity.
“There’s always more to experience, but I’m mostly drawn to simple, rustic dishes using local and seasonal ingredients. I like it when cooks add small twists. Greek cuisine is humble, simply prepared with quality ingredients.”
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Becoming a cookbook author
He revealed that writing a cookbook was a “one thing leads to the other” kind of story. Back in 2013, a publisher contacted him about doing the 2nd edition of The Everything Mediterranean Cookbook with updated recipes.
“While I was offered to use some recipes from the 1st edition, I opted to use all of my own.”
The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook is his 8th book.
One pot meals
Peter says his The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook is dedicated to the busy homemaker or person who has little time to prepare food for themselves or their family. All the recipes follow a one pot cooking philosophy that saves time in preparation, cooking, and clean-up. The chapters are divided according to different methods of cooking: skillet, pot, sheet pan, Dutch Oven, and even Instant Pot and pressure cookers.
“Everyone’s busy. We want good food but don’t always have a lot of time. When cooking one pot style. The approach or method is different, so each dish is a tasty success. One method is being able to cook a pasta dish all in one pan. Same ingredients, but different approach.”
The recipes call for fresh ingredients, are easy, and all adhere to the Mediterranean diet. We know the Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest in the world, with people reporting so many benefits including weight loss, reduced cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. Now with so many recipes incorporating the tenets of the Mediterranean diet, we can all easily adapt and invest in a healthy lifestyle, one meal at a time.
The book came out on April 12, and the feedback so far has been excellent. Peter will do some book signings in Toronto and soon will head to New York and New Jersey to lead some cooking classes and also, to sell and sign books. He’d love to come to your town too.
“I’d love to do more Greek-themed dinners. I collaborate with restaurants and also churches to assist with their fundraising efforts.”
I’ve been following Peter for years and we’ve become friends, but I can honestly tell you he’s excelled at his craft. I’m thrilled to add The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook to my collection. As a mom with two busy kids, I’m often rushing between school pick-ups, dinner prep, and their activities. I love one pot cooking. And now I have 200 more recipes from one of my favorites at my fingertips!
The book opens with an explanation of different types of one pot cooking and some basics. And each recipe includes nutritional information, something I’m all over these days. Chickpeas with Leeks and Spinach has become a favorite on meatless days. My kids love the Skillet Chicken Parmesan. This week, I’ve got Pumpkin Risotto with Pancetta on the menu, and my family is already flagging pages with future requests.
Many times, I feel like I cook the same things over and over again, mostly due to time. But thanks to Peter Minaki and the The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook, I have lots of new choices, some quick takes on classics we know and love, and others which are combinations I’d not considered. You need this one in your collection!
The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook is available at Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, Target, and wherever books are sold. Follow Peter Minaki on his blog, Kalofagas Greek Food & Beyond, and on social media. Interested in coordinating a cooking class of pop-up dinner? Email.
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