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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 April 2016
12 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 APRIL 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Estrella: Thessaloniki’s culinary star ‘Food anarchist’ Dimitris Koparanis, a self-taught cook turned acclaimed chef, talks about changing the Greek food mentality ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS hen it comes to brunch, Australia has garnered a world-wide reputation for innovation, with people across the country, and in particular Melburnians, spoilt for choice. But when it comes to the foodie W scene in Thessaloniki, there's one name on everyone's lips and that is Dimitris Koparanis. The food blogger and chef, who heads the now world-famous Estrella restaurant in the cosmopolitan city, is turning diner's tastebuds on their heads. Through constant experimentation, study and research, Koparanis has developed menu ideas which embody the very essence of what excites him about food: simple, disctinctive and edgy flavours, achieved by using ingredients in a way that tells a story. "My favourite ingredients to work with are leguminous vegetables, fresh vegetables - straight from the garden, culinary herbs, olive oil and last but not least, humour!" he says. Though his repertoire has grown over the years, it always comes back to his renowned hybrid dessert: the bougatsan. Half-Thessaloniki, halfParis, the croissant is filled with the thick custard of a traditional Greek bougatsa. It's fair to say, we can't wait to see what he'll create next. Neos Kosmos reached out to Koparanis to discuss his back story and what he thinks has made Estrella the hotspot that it is today. How did you get into cooking? When it comes to cooking, I'm selftaught. I was actually a food blogger and I started cooking in 2010 in an attempt to give back and show some appreciation to my followers. I started out working at Ergon, the first restaurant by the owners of Estrella, and also at Sani in Halkidiki. How long have you been at Estrella? I started at Estrella in March 2013, where I took on the role of creative director. What this has entailed is making decisions about things like the character of the restaurant, the direction of the menu, if it would be 'avant garde', 'fast casual', 'street food' or whatever else. Also how we Creative director Dimitris Koparanis. PHOTO: VASILIS KARKATSELIS. will serve the food, and the direction we would take with marketing strategies. And all of this would have to ultimately come together with a menu that is genuinely tasty and popular among diners. What do you think are the strengths of Estrella? What has made it so popular? Estrella is a new type of restaurant, you could even say it is postmodern, where the food functions unto itself beyond the space, and beyond the restaurant's design. The space is very basic, it has all the necessities. It is a corner space, with mainly glass partitions and a few tables. By moving away from what has been the norm for restaurants - a focus on the interior design - the food can be the ultimate protagonist in this space. The food that we're doing at Estrella sells itself, rather than as part of the restaurant. This is the new element that we have introduced; so that we're not relying on the restaurant's design, but instead placing significance on the food alone. What do you enjoy cooking most? Do you have any signature dishes? Our menu is basically breakfast and brunch, which is served all day. It mainly consists of eggs, omelettes, the 'Ottoman burger' inspired by the Ottoman history of the city, the #bougatsan - the first Greek dish to go viral, the breakfast pizza (a pizza made with the same dough of Thessaloniki's famous koulouri, topped with fried eggs and bacon), a breakfast gyro with chicken and tirokafteri (spicy feta and capsicum dip) and egg, and also a dish with 63° eggs, which we have named #eggjob, served with crispy angel hair and cheezels. For this season's new menu, my inspiration so far has been popular culture. What are your influences when it comes to food? I'm inspired by many things, all of which have nothing to do with food, from history to fashion, cinematography, books. Also various things that I remember or something I see on the road. Can you tell me about the food scene in Thessaloniki? Has it changed over the years? Thessaloniki is a restless city; there's always something happening and people constantly want something new. But this doesn't mean that there isn't space for more classic options. In general terms, it is a city that loves food and what we call food culture. For more information and recipes, visit www.thefoodieanarchist. wordpress.com/ or visit Estrella's tumblr: www.bougatsan.tumblr.com/ Roasted beets with goat’s cheese When it comes to cooking beets, they need a little time and patience to become soft and sweet. This vegetable goes best with a slightly acidic goat cheese, along with a little nutmeg and fresh herbs. Serves 4 Ingredients: 1kg beetroot 200g + extra 200g of goat's cheese 100g pinenuts a bunch of basil, finely chopped a bunch of parsley, finely chopped 2 tablespoons of olive oil 500g yoghurt 1 egg pepper Method: Clean the beetroot, making sure to leave the skin on. Wrap them in aluminium foil and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° until tender. Allow the beetroot to cool down before removing the skin. Cut them into thin slices and mix through the olive oil. In a bowl, mix 200g of the goat's cheese with the pinenuts, pepper and herbs. Spread the slices of beetroot on a baking tray. When the layer is complete, spread a layer of the goat's cheese mixture on top. Repeat until you have at least three layers. In another bowl, whisk the egg, adding the yoghurt and the remaining 200g of goat's cheese. Spread this mixture on top of the final layer of beetroot. Place in the oven and cook at 180°, until a crisp top develops. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. #PRETTYECLAIR: the home-made version The #prettyeclair is a fresh take on the wellknown eclair, and is reminiscent of tsoureki (Greek Easter bread). They are served with a combination of flavours made from local ingredients and are addictively delicious. Makes 15 Ingredients: 125ml water 60g butter salt sugar 70g all-purpose flour 3 eggs kakoule powder mahlepi spice Method: Place all ingredients except the eggs and flour in a pot over low heat, and stir until the mixture reaches boiling point. Add the flour and continue stirring until the mixture is firm and isn’t sticking to the sides. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Transfer the mixture to the mixer, and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the dough is shiny. Place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe into the shape of an eclair, about 12cm long. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180° for 20 minutes. When they are ready, they will have risen and be nice and shiny in colour. In every eclair make a small hole and allow to cool in the oven with the door open. Then fill them with a filling of your choice. Eclairs pair well with chocolate cream, cream cheese, honey and honeycomb, or even frozen yoghurt. Get creative and enjoy.
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