The “Messinian Gastronomy Seminars,” free of charge and aimed at food service professionals, once again ended with great success and a great turnout. The seminars were organized by the “Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos” Foundation, in collaboration with the Messinian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the “Orizon” Vocational Training Institute, and the Technological Educational Institute (T.E.I.) of Peloponnese’s Olive Oil Tasting Laboratory. The three-day event, which has become an institution, took place for the 4th consecutive year in Navarino Dunes, Costa Navarino, between May 10 and May 12, 2016.
The aim of the seminars is to promote and establish the culinary tradition of Messinia, and to support the promotion and use of local products. More than 150 food service professionals participated in this year’s seminars, where they had the opportunity to meet with distinguished professionals in the field and cook alongside them, learning new ways to make good use of local products, and gaining invaluable knowledge and experience on how a restaurant operates, in general. This year,the events were attended by awarded chefs, such as Dimitris Melemenis (“Costa Navarino”), Costas Tsigkas (“Vespa Rosa,”“Pere Ubu,”“Testaccio”&“Steak Frites”), Lefteris Lazarou (“Varoulko Seaside”), Doxis Bekris (executive chef for the hotels and resorts of the “Fairmont” group in Africa), Dimitris Dimitriadis (chef at “Artisanal”), Yiorgos Venieris (chef at “Mr. Pug”), and Alexandros Fouroulis (chef &co-owner of “ΜΑΝIΜΑΝI”).
The participants attended the theoretical part of the seminar, presented by chef Lefteris Lazarou, titled “How to set up my restaurant,” saw the actual preparation of unique dishes using Messinian recipes and products by all chefs, participated in local olive oil tasting, where they were taught to recognize its quality elements and characteristics, and finally, together with chef Dimitris Melemenis, they visited the rich vegetable gardens of Costa Navarino.
Regarding the seminars, Chef Lefteris Lazarou has said: “Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos’ vision for Messinia is still a beacon of light for all of us, and the Foundation honors this legacy. I always advise all participants to be honest with everyone who visits their restaurant or tavern, using the exceptional raw materials produced by Messinian nature; moreover, I tell them that this profession requires that you love what you do, and are excited to do it. It is really encouraging to see professionals from the area participating in the seminars year after year, many times putting into practice advice and techniques presented in the annual Messinian Gastronomy Seminars, thus contributing in a decisive way to the development of their business, which, ultimately, benefits the area in total.”
A significant element in all recipes prepared by the distinguished chefs during the cooking classes was the use of raw materials of the highest quality, in combination with modern cooking techniques. Various types of seafood and meat were used, creating unique dishes such as “Organic cockerel with orzo, green peas, and raisin and Moscato wine sauce,” “Goat with tomato sprouts and cumin-scented carrot purée,” “Cod ‘tsiladia,’” “Pork breast with molasses, peanuts, salted pork and vinegar,” “Spicy shrimp,” “Syglino (cured pork) with scrambled egg mousse on a shell,”“Kapama-style cauliflower couscous,” “Tsiladia’ with cod tempura,” and “Scrambled eggs with artichoke and olive paste.”
In the words of Mr. Xenophon Kappas, Director of the “Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos” Foundation: “It is a great joy to be witnessing the great reception and the ever-increasing interest of food service professionals in this institution, which continues to expand, year by year, in order to meet the demands of the participants, at the same time providing a significant boost to the area’s unique cuisine and products, and helping to promote them. Our aim is to continue on this path, always striving to create the most favorable conditions in order to further improve Messinia’s culinary—and therefore agricultural—products.”