Michael Psilakis is an award winning chef, cookbook author and expert in Greek cuisine. Among his accolades are Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, Bon Appetit’s Chef of the Year, nomination for A-List Chef by Bravo TV, dubbed “Chef of the Year” by Esquire Magazine. His upscale Greek restaurant, Anthos, was nominated for a James Beard Award in the category of Best New Restaurant, was awarded a Michelin star and named the third of ten best new restaurants by The New York Times restaurant reviewer, Frank Bruni. Michael has a deep love for Greek food, the food of his family roots and has taken this cuisine to the next level without sacrificing the integrity of traditional dishes.
Now let’s get Michael’s take on healthy cooking…
Diane: Do you see a trend with diners seeking better-for-you options on the menu?
Michael: Absolutely! People are looking for food that nourishes them and makes them feel good. Customers shouldn’t leave a meal feeling heavy and weighed down, but rather energized and replenished by what they just ate. Healthy, but flavorful dishes are the future of eating.
Diane: What’s your definition of “healthy eating”?
Michael: To me, healthy eating is simple, clean and honest eating, which is central to Greek cuisine. It doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or taste, but rather consuming quality ingredients that are often naturally robust and bold in flavor. Using fresh and seasonal vegetables, grilling proteins and flavoring dishes with olive oils and spices are central to Greek cooking.
Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?
Michael: When you cook with quality ingredients, it doesn’t take much to make a great dish. Allow ingredients to shine by simply grilling lean proteins and vegetables over charcoal. A generous squeeze of lemon is often all it takes to elevate a dish and add a ton of flavor. My goal is always to cook simply and intentionally, and create dishes that reflect my true love and passion for the ingredients that I work with.
Diane: What is your favorite dish on your own menu and why?
Michael: Some of my favorite dishes are the simplest dishes. At MP Taverna, we have a section of the menu dedicated to simply grilled items and I love the Swordfish.
Diane: How about an update on what’s new and exciting in your world?
Michael: I am finishing up my second cookbook, LIVE TO EAT, which highlights the deliciousness and proven health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The book includes health-focused recipes from me, as well as detailed meal plans and nutritional guidelines from a prominent registered dietician. I am also working on an exciting project in Williamsburg of which details are still being finalized. More to come soon!
Click here for Chef Michael Psilakis's Grilled Branzino with Bulgar Salad Recipe
Diane Henderiks is a personal chef and culinary nutritionist on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Follow her on Twitter @dhenderiks, "Like" Diane on Facebook, or visit her website.