Michael Psilakis, the chef at Anthos and Kefi, has only been cooking professionally for about five years, but he learned his way around his Greek mother’s kitchen early in life. He credits her and his aunt with forming his palate. Now he’s really shaming those of us whose last meals would involve servants feeding us endless hoagies while our loved ones make tearful toasts in our honor.
Your last meal could be anywhere you want. I’ll be honest—it wouldn’t be me going anywhere. It would be me cooking for the people I love. When you’re a chef, the thing you wanna do more than anything is give this gift to people. It’s what you’re passionate about. I come from an old-fashioned Greek family, and my mother always chose the seat closest to the kitchen, always ate the least. It was about gathering and sharing her food. That’s where the rush was; that’s where the love was. Chefs have the same mentality.
Who would you cook for? I’d start the day with an intimate meal, just my wife and son. Somewhere in the mountains, we could rent something for the day and get the food locally. For my son, I’d make blueberry pancakes with fresh whipped cream and maple syrup and bacon, all from the farm.
How old is your son? Eighteen months. And for my wife, if we’re going all out, Iranian caviar with just-made créme fraîche, truffled egg salad, potato blinis, grilled country bread with butter, and real American smoked ham. Cornichons—she adores cornichons. And a farm omelet with porcinis and spring onions. I’d eat everything—I love breakfast. The rest of the day would be this big cookout, with whole animals on spits: pigs, lambs. We did these huge cookouts a lot when I was younger. I would have everyone I love, and the ones who love to cook would bring their food. I have relatives from different parts of Greece, so they have their specialties.
Like what? My mom’s meatballs, definitely, and her crispy sweetbreads. My aunt makes slammin’ sausages with tomatoes and peppers, stewed. And my uncle, the mad shucker, he’d do dozens of oysters. Then there’d be a whole slew of grilled stuff, like octopus, vegetables, liver, more sausages, shrimp, corn. If you asked about my ultimate meal, that’s different. But my last meal? I can’t see it being this purely selfish, gluttonous meal. Most of the stuff I do is a reflection of memories of my mother and my aunts. This would be my thanks to them.