Best New Chefs 2008: Michael Psilakis
Best New Chefs 2008: Michael Psilakis

Michael Psilakis

Why he won Because he has ingeniously redefined Greek cooking in America. Born New York City; 1968. First career Accounting. “Then I decided to go to law school and started waiting tables at T.G.I. Friday’s to pay for it. I found out I liked the restaurant industry.” How he got into cooking “I bought a restaurant on Long Island, Café Angelica, and worked as a maître d’. I loved it; it was like My Big Fat Greek Wedding every night. One day, the chef left without notice. Customers were coming, so I went back to the kitchen and did the best I could. It wasn’t a fun day, but it was a fortunate one.” Flavor obesession “I’m an acid freak. The more complex a dish is, the more important acidity is—it stops palate fatigue. It keeps you going after the fourth or fifth bite.” Fantasy restaurant partner Jim Morrison. “The food would be deeply conceptual, and the crowd would be artsy and intellectual. I’d love to know what his foodie friends—if he had any—would have thought.” Won Best New Chef at: Anthos, New York City
Spiced Crab Tacos
Rating: Unrated
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Chef Michael Psilakis' bright, fresh crab tacos incorporate traditional Latin ingredients and a hit of chile sauce. Cooked shrimp would be great here as well.
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Spaghetti with Cauliflower
Rating: Unrated
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For Michael Psilakis, macaronia ("pasta") has always meant chicken stewed with spaghetti, tomatoes, cinnamon, raisins and pine nuts. Those are the dominant ingredients here, except he's substituted chicken with cauliflower.
Lamb Chops with Vinaigrette
Rating: Unrated
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Michael Psilakis says, "Everything in this recipe is Greek but you just might not realize it." The lamb, almonds, lemon and onion show up on tables all over Greece, and the bulgur is ubiquitous on the Greek island of Crete.
Michael Psilakis likes to riff on saganaki—fried cheese with lemon. He uses manouri, a fresh, milky white cheese made from the whey that's drained off during feta production. Like nearly all Greek cheeses, it's produced from either sheep's or goat's milk.
Michael Psilakis dresses these luscious lamb chops with ladolemono, a supersimple Greek sauce of lemon juice and olive oil. The sauce is often spooned over fish, but it's delicious on meat and vegetables, too. "This is real Greek cooking," he says. Michael Psilakis: Using Leftovers More Recipes by Michael Psilakis More Greek Recipes
Greek Salad Sandwiches
Rating: Unrated
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This is Greek salad perfection: Michael Psilakis tops warm bread with garlicky red-pepper tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt spread) and a piquant combo of cucumbers, olives, peperoncini, tomatoes, radishes, greens, and feta. It's stellar with homemade ladopsomo bread and yogurt, but equally good with store-bought. Michael Psilakis: Great Greek Salad
This is a play on a Greek dish called spanakorizo that's popular during Lent because it's made without egg, cheese or meat. Michael Psilakis updates it with zucchini, arugula and peas. To make the dish richer (if less Lent-appropriate), he recommends topping the risotto with sharp goat cheese or grated Parmesan. Slideshow:  More Recipes From Michael Psilakis 
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Garlic Confit with Thyme
Rating: Unrated
New!
"The woman who made the diples [fried dough] was like my grandmother—she wore a bib apron 24 hours a day," Michael Psilakis says. More Recipes by Michael Psilakis More Greek Recipes
This is a play on a Greek dish called spanakorizo that's popular during Lent because it's made without egg, cheese or meat. Michael Psilakis updates it with zucchini, arugula and peas. To make the dish richer (if less Lent-appropriate), he recommends topping the risotto with sharp goat cheese or grated Parmesan. Slideshow:  More Recipes From Michael Psilakis 
Garlic Confit with Thyme
Rating: Unrated
New!
"The woman who made the diples [fried dough] was like my grandmother—she wore a bib apron 24 hours a day," Michael Psilakis says. More Recipes by Michael Psilakis More Greek Recipes