KRYSTINA KALPOTHAKOS: AN AUTHENTIC GREEK SOUL CHEF

by Ευγενία

We had the opportunity to meet the warm-hearted, talented chef and beautiful soul, Krystina Kalapothakos. Krystina is a Greek-American chef and cookbook author, who lives in California, but visits Greece almost every year. She recently had her second cookbook published and it was a great honor for us to write an article for the gastronomy of Thessaloniki at this second cookbook, titled “a Drop of Ladi & MY GREEK SOUL”. We are extremely excited  that Krystina accepted to give us an interview for our blog and tell us many interesting details about her life and her career! 


We are very happy to introduce Krystina to our friends and followers!

1.Krystina, why have you chosen a career in the field of culinary arts, particularly as a chef?

My love for food started at a very young age. Both my parents are wonderful cooks, and we have many cooks on my dad’s side of the family in Greece. Growing up in a crazy Greek family who appreciates food was a good start toward my love for cooking. At the age of seven, I was officially making my own Greek recipes including spanakopita, keftedes, baklava, and much more.

In 2008, I acknowledged the passion I had for culinary art and enrolled in the pastry chef program at Le Cordon Bleu in Sacramento, California.  In 2009 I graduated with my pastry degree. I later became a sous chef on the island of Skiathos working at a Tapas restaurant. In 2011, I tested my skills in a Japanese restaurant and became a sushi chef.

Kouzounas Kitchen is dedicated to my yiayia, Stavroula Kouzouna Kalapothakou. Yiayia was from Mani, Greece and was a fantastic home cook. I learned many of her traditional Greek recipes and now I share them through my blog. (I hope yiayia is looking down upon me smiling as I share many of her delicious recipes with my very own twist).

I fulfilled a long-awaited dream of mine recently. Back To My Roots cookbook was published on February 28, 2016. Back To My Roots is not only packed full of mouth-watering recipes, but I also share my personal story, kitchen tips and tricks, bits and pieces of the history of olive oil and its benefits, and much, much more!

2.What inspires you when you are in the kitchen?

This is such a great question and my answers are probably endless! What inspires me daily in the kitchen? It is my LOVE for cooking! It is an endless love that I have. I feel the kitchen is what brings happiness to my soul, and I want to share that happiness with all. 

3. You have already written 2 cookbooks. Share some details about your first cookbook ‘’ Back To My Roots’’.  What is the meaning of the word “roots” in your life?

Yes, I self-published two cookbooks within the past 4 years. I published Back To My Roots in 2016 in the hopes of sharing my love for Greek cuisine around the world. This cookbook is on the smaller side with 88 pages and very easy to follow Greek recipes. “Roots” refers to my Greek roots. My father is from Mani, Greece; he migrated to the USA when he was 28 years old. My father has been a huge influence on my life. He always taught my sister’s and me the love for our Greek culture. So I figured the first title of my book “Back To My Roots” is very fitting, especially sharing some of my Yia Yia’s recipes and stories

4. Now tell us about your second cook book  “a Drop of Ladi & MY GREEK SOUL”.

“A Drop of Ladi & My Greek Soul” is a book on a different level! It is not just your average cookbook; rather it is a book with tons of “psixi” or as we say “soul” in English. The idea of this second cookbook came to me a few years ago. I was in the kitchen and I started dreaming about the different regions of Greece and the recipes from those places. I then had the idea to combine Greeks from around the world including yours truly, Thess Del Food. Finally, after 1 year in the making, I published the second cookbook in October of 2019. 

5.Which is your favourite greek recipe and what memories brings to you?

My favorite Greek recipe is more than likely the “spanakopita” for many reasons but one is that this was the recipe that made me realize I wanted to be a chef. My love for phyllo dough started here, and I created my own spanakopita recipe at age 7 that has become  the main food I bring to any family holiday table, or to my customers who love the delicious spinach feta herb pie

6.How you manage you keep your Greek spirit in California?

In California, it may be a bit difficult at times to keep the Greek spirit or heritage alive because we live in a small village- like a place called Pollock Pines which is almost 1 hour from Sacramento, the capital of California. When I started blogging in 2013, I shared my love for Greek cooking and met beautiful people around the world, mostly Greeks. I keep the Greek spirit alive with my blog, chatting with Greek friends around the globe, as well as sharing family time in the kitchen and listening to Greek music
7.If you have to choose between a trip to Mani, Athens, Crete or Thessaloniki for next summer, which region  of Greece would you choose and why?


This is a hard question because I have a special spot in my heart for all these places. But since I have visited Thessaloniki, Crete, and Athens the last few years, I would say I want to visit Mani again. I haven’t been back to our hometown since 2016, and I miss it so much. I have many memories in Mani and I would love to go back and visit with family. 


8.What are your future plans?


Future plans… I think this is hard to answer at the moment but I can tell you this: Thess Del Food, my plans are to work on a third cookbook.  Hopefully, in a few years, I will have my own Greek cafe. I know the world is hurting at the moment, but I hope we will all get through this and work as one nation to smile again and live our life
Krystina’s Kalapothakos site is this: https://kouzounaskitchen.com
You can follow Krystina at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KouzounasKitchen/

You can find Krystina Kalapothakos cookbooks at Amazon: 


Krystina thank you so much for this interview and for the honour you made us to cooperate with us at your second book a Drop of Ladi & MY GREEK SOUL, it was a unique experience for us!
Photo Credits: Photos were sent to us by Krystina Kalapothakos

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