Nikolaos Tselementes (1878-1958). The first Greek Master Chef!
In Greece it's a common conception that the word “tselementes" is synonymous with cookbooks. However, only few of us really know that Nikolaos Tselementes was actually an inspired cook who influenced significantly the Greek urban cuisine. The legendary chef from the island of Sífnos studied the art of cooking in Vienna. When he returned to Greece he started working for many foreign embassies. Systematic, talented and a man of vision Tselementes initiated the Greeks into the secrets of international cuisine.
Tselementes became widely known through the launch of the monthly magazine “Cooking Guide” (first published in 1910) that included, apart from recipes, nutritional advice, cooking news and ideas on how to serve and present food. His restless spirit led him to America, where his talent established him as a chef at the finest restaurants. At the same time he continued his studies on cooking, confectionary and dietetics. Upon returning to Greece in 1932, he published his famous cooking book entitled “Odigos Mageirikis” (Cooking Guide), the first complete cooking guide in Greek that had over fifteen official reprints during the following decades. In 1956 he published his only book in English “Greek Cookery”.
It is no exaggeration to say that Tselementes taught the Greeks how to cook. His cooking books were every housewife’s cooking bible and a valuable wedding gift for the newlyweds! Tselementes combined harmonically the Greek and the French cuisine, and showed the Greek housewives how to prepare the favourite béchamel sauce, tasty pirozhkies, bouillabaisse (seafood soup), jelly recipes, whipped cream, canapés as well as the art of decoration and the magic of buffets!
Without doubt, Tselementes bequeathed us a lasting legacy. After all, he was the founder of the contemporary Greek gastronomic culture.