Winter Menu To Include Greek Food

What's Cooking
Daniel A. Citron

Diane Kochilas prepares Greek food while discussing transitions in Greek culinary traditions on Thursday. The free event, co-sponsored by Harvard University Dining Services and the Food Literacy Project, brought a packed crowd to Pforzheimer House's Hastings Room.

Harvard students can look forward to Greek recipes in their dining halls after Thanksgiving break, when several concoctions created by Greek-American chef Diane Kochilas will be featured in the winter menu.

David P. Davidson, managing director of Harvard University Dining Services, invited Kochilas to dream up food for Harvard dining halls when he met her at a conference in California last year.

Many in the Harvard foodie crowd have had a chance to preview Kochilas’ offerings this week.

She dined with Food Literacy Project representatives on Wednesday, met with chefs on Thursday, and provided a cooking demonstration of Greek appetizers—called meze—in Pforzheimer House for students Thursday night.

“Meze is a kind of eating centered around a variety of small plates that are definitely meant to be shared,” Kochilas said during the demonstration in Pforzheimer.

The arrangement matters as much as the ingredients, she said, telling amateur chefs to pay attention to varieties in color, mixtures, spices, and texture. Calling her inclusion in the menu a “tremendous honor,” Kochilas said, “It’s also about sharing what is Greek food. Greek food is often misrepresented and still not very well known.”

Kochilas first ventured into cooking because of her family.

“[Food] was always the center of activity at the house,” Kochilas said. “It’s a conduit for emotion.”

As she demonstrated four different meze dishes, she spoke about Greek food.

“All of the dishes I chose tonight are meatless,” she said. “Professionals in the food world are trying to find ways to make vegetables more appealing.” Greek cuisine often features olive oil, vegetables as main courses, seasonal produce, and very little processed food, Kochilas said.

Kochilas’s recipes will bring a host of foreign words to HUDS menu cards: kalamata chicken, spetsofai, shrimp Mikrolimano, chicken pastitsada, pasta with Greek yogurt and caramelized onions, kakavia, classic spanakorizo, and kotopoulo yiouvetsi.

Alexia A. Zagouras ’16, who is Greek, said she and her family have cooked Kochilas’s recipes before. As she tried the food that Kochilas prepared at the demonstration, Zagourus opined that it tasted authentic.

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at