Nikolaos Tselementes: The ‘Father’ of Greek Cookbooks



Nikolaos_Tselementes

At least every Greek household has a “tselemente” — a “cookbook” that took its name after Nikolaos Tselementes, the famous chef that combined the modern cuisine with Greek tradition. His book “Cooking and Baking Guide” was published in 1926, and ever, since his name has been a synonym for every cookbook.

Nikolaos Tselementes was born in 1978 in Sifnos. He grew up in Athens, where he finished high-school. At first, Tselementes worked at a notary office and proceeded with cooking while he worked at his uncle’s restaurant. He studied cooking for a year in Vienna, and upon his return he worked as a chef in various embassies.

He became famous through the magazine “Cooking Guide,” which had started being published in 1910 and contained recipes, dietary advice, international cuisine and news regarding cooking. In 1919, Tselementes became the manager of hotel “Ermis” and one year later he left for the United States, where he worked in some of the most expensive restaurants in world. In the meantime, he also received higher education in cooking, pastry making and dietetics.

His book “Cooking and Baking Guide” was published in April 1926 and constituted the first completed cooking guide in Greece. The book became so popular that it was published more than 15 times in the next decades. He returned to Athens and founded a small school for cooking and baking. In 1950, Tselementes published the cookbook “Greek Cookery” in English, regarding Greek cuisine.

Influenced by the French cuisine, Tselementes was a modernizer of the Greek cuisine, as he introduced flavors such as the bechamel sauce, sausage rolls and the bouillabaisse; at that time, for some, this equaled to an adulteration of the Greek cuisine.

Nicolaos Tselementes died on March 2nd 1958 in Athens, at the age of 80.