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One life-changing day, Michael Psilakis was working front-of-the-house at his Long Island restaurant, Ecco, and the chef and cook never showed up. Michael took over the kitchen and hasn't left since. Now in partnership with Donatella Arpaia, he has five restaurants: Kefi, Mia Dona, Anthos, Gus & Gabriel, and Eos in the Viceroy Miami. He has been awarded a Michelin star at Anthos, nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, and named Chef of the Year by Bon Appetit magazine and Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2008. Michael published his first cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb, in 2009.





How do you characterize your cuisine?

First-generation Greek. Whenever you are raised in an immigrant family, your parents take a picture of the country they are leaving and pack it away only to see it re-emerge in their new home. They then begin the process of raising you in the vacuum of that picture. The irony is that the country they leave evolves, but the picture never does. You therefore are connected with the traditions of old and an unparalleled pride for their homeland. When someone asks where I'm from, I always respond...Greece! But it's impossible not to be influenced by my home here in the United States.

What region or ethnicity most influences your cooking?

Greece, Italy, Spain.

What is your signature dish?

Whole animals and raw fish.

What kind of food were you exposed to as a child?

Traditional Greek from both the mainland and the island of Crete.

Is there an exotic spice or ingredient that you particularly enjoy using?

I couldn't live without cinnamon and fresh bay leaf.

Does the design and style of your restaurant evoke a particular place? If so, where?

"Home." I have been fixated by the idea that a restaurant is the dinner table of yesteryear. With the need of both parents to work, there is less time spent gathered around the family table and more time spent around a restaurant one. The idea of creating an environment similar to the one I had growing up with all the wonderful memories that somehow revolved around the kitchen table.

When you cook for yourself, what do you make?

Anything on the grill, fresh vegetables from the garden, cold beer, and the memories that will follow.

Tell us about some trips you've taken for inspiration.

Food has been my vehicle to express my connection to the world. As such, each journey I've taken has somehow been represented in the food I created. Exploring through food has always been the most fascinating part of cooking professionally. There are two types of chefs: the artist the artisan. I definitely see food as art. I want people to know when I'm angry, happy, tired or bored!

What are your thoughts on global cuisine?

Is there anything more exciting than seeing the blending of cultures and how it produces something we have never seen before? For me, change is the energy of life.

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