Who Is Maria Loi, the So-Called 'Greek Martha Stewart'?

Compass has been a staple of Upper West Side dining for the better part of the aughts. But come fall, the restaurant, which has had its share of ups and downs over the years, may be replaced by Loi, a restaurant created in the image of Maria Loi, the self-proclaimed "Greek Martha Stewart." Loi told Grub Street that she'll be serving healthy, straightforward renditions of the Greek classics. Fine, but who is this woman, exactly?

According to Loi's website, she until recently had her own cooking show on "Greece's most successful morning program" and is the author of several cookbooks. One, called Ancient Dining, was the official book for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games (who knew?). She also has her own weekly magazine and a series of DVDs, a gourmet restaurant in Greece, a line of "home electrical micro appliances" and dinnerware, and is a partner in a clothing business "representing international fashion firms."

Like Stewart, Loi is stridently blond, and was not always a slightly menacing domestic goddess. Instead, she apparently spent many years as a lobbyist for such unequivocally menacing corporations as Texaco, Nokia, and the Sheraton Hotel chain. Unlike Stewart, Loi does not appear to concern herself with OCD-style home economics -- there are no instructions for sewing one's own batik linen napkins on her website, or tips for upholstering footstools in tartan plaid.

Loi's Facebook page boasts 4,969 followers and lists her activities as "Kennedy Family" and "Cooking." One of her favorite movies seems to be The Switch, the Jennifer Aniston sperm-donor comedy. Her list of favorite television shows includes "Oprah Winfrey," "The Ellen Degeneres," Top Chef Just Desserts, and In Gayle We Trust -- but not, curiously enough, The Martha Stewart Show.

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