The  first National  Geographic Traveller Food Festival at Islington’s Business Design Centre on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st July attracted 6,000 visitors in total over the two weekend days. The Greek National Tourism Organisation stand, Stand B11 was dedicated to Greece’s cuisine and wines with co-sponsors from the wines of Northern Greece. Regional tourism bodies included the Attica Region, Thessaloniki Tourism, the Region of Crete and the South Aegean. Metaxa, also provided a mixologist and there were food samples on the stand itself.

Sympossio chefs,  George Chatzopoulos and Ioannis Rodokanakis from Aldemar Resorts in Crete and western Greece respectively, showcased the cuisine from these two areas of Greece during two masterclasses at the Cinnamon Theatre, on Saturday and Sunday, presented by Yasemen Kaner-White. Sympossio is an annual interactive cooking event that over the last 10 years has travelled to 20 countries and more than 50 destinations. In the UK & Ireland alone, Sympossio has hosted over 1,200 travel trade participants learning to cook Greek. Menus for each year can be found on

Over 140 people attended the two Sympossio masterclasses sampling three courses of Greek cuisine. On Saturday at 12:30 the masterclass was Cretan cuisine consisting of courgette flower stuffed with rice and ‘Galeni’cream cheese, followed by a Cretan burger made of fried ‘xinohondros’, ‘apaki’, Cretan graviera cheese, raisins and drops of ‘petimezi’ (grape syrup) served on pita bread, rounded off by a dessert of ‘Tiganites’ (fried parcels filled with sweet ‘mizithra’ cheese), caramalized apricots and cooked in ‘Soumada’ (Cretan almond liquor) with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

On Sunday at 13:40 the masterclass showcases Western Greece with marinated courgette ribbon salad with a citrus sauce, smoked eel and grated ‘botargo’, followed by aromatic chicken meatballs in a classic tomato sauce on a bed of vegetable ‘trachanas’ and ‘Andritsena’ and feta cheese foam, finishing with a dessert that consisted of a generous dollop of Greek yogurt, topped with grape spoon sweet and caramelized walnuts.

The emphasis on all of the dishes prepared and cooked by Chef George Chatzopoulos and Chef Ioannis Rodokanakis was on good quality ingredients, sourced locally in Crete and Western Greece, to produce dishes that are both healthy and reflect the local specialities of Greece, in particular Cretan cuisine, which is renowned world-wide for its health benefits that promote longevity.

“Whilst we cannot claim that Greek cuisine will ensure eternal life even though we consider it to provide the elixir of life, we were able to introduce, to visitor to this first National Geographic Traveller Food Festival, new ideas to classic dishes and cuisine created by our talented chefs. We’re delighted that the event was successful and that so many Londoners were able to sample Greek cuisine as they may have not done so before. Now we look forward to welcoming many more UK visitors to our shores, especially as the summer season begins in earnest” concluded Alexandros Angelopoulos, Executive Director for Aldemar Resorts.

At the end of the second day the two Greek chefs had two books by Gennaro signed by  this chef who proclaimed that he loves Greece and all things Greek: “una faccia, una razza,” he proclaimed!

Gennaro Contaldo, is an Italian chef and restaurateur, known for his association with his protégé, Jamie Oliver, and his partnership with fellow Italian chef Antonio Carluccio and their BBC Two television series Two Greedy Italians.

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