Giannis Apostolakis

Interview with the Executive Chef of MAICH  

On Monday 20 May 2019, at the facilities of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICH), we met with the Executive Chef of the Institute, Mr. Giannis Apostolakis.

Two days earlier, an olive oil tasting had taken place at the same location in Mr. Apostolakis’ presence together with a small number of guests, in order to taste the olive oil labels promoted by Olive Epitome and discern the particular olive varieties.

It was a sunny morning, in the room with the imposing fireplace, when Mr. Apostolakis entered. Humble looking, serious but with a genuine politeness and openness towards his interlocutors. He offered us tea from wild olive leaves and unfolded his thoughts and views on extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet.

His professional career in the field of gastronomy began in 1975 from Montreal, Canada and ended up at MAICH in 1986 where he is the Executive Chef until today, having acquired a rich experience through the years in the nutrition and catering field.

Mediterranean diet & Cretan cuisine

He has adopted the Cretan cuisine where extra virgin olive oil is at its base and includes at least 200 recipes. Although he considers Cretan cuisine as the flagship of the Mediterranean diet, he acknowledges the immense gastronomic wealth emanating from the Mediterranean basin. For his special contribution in making Cretan cuisine known, a visit at his website “CRETAN GASTRONOMY”, is a unique experience.

Olive oil & Mediterranean diet

The main ingredient of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. In the southern basin of the Mediterranean, the climate conditions render difficult the proper maintenance of olive oil, therefore spicy elements are preferred for the human defense system of the body. On the contrary, in the European basin of the Mediterranean, olive oil is used for its beneficial properties to human health and for the velvety and aromatic taste added on a plate when it is used raw.

Olive oil quality categories & gastronomy

The use of extra virgin olive oil in daily cuisine is non-negotiable. In our cooking, it should be used raw at the end, directly on our plate. In pastry preparations it is advised to replace butter with a delicate flavoured olive oil. As a general rule, it is recommended to replace animal fat with vegetable fat, such as extra virgin olive oil. In frying we use it unconditionally, on the one hand because of its resistance to high temperatures and on the other because it creates a crunchy crust on the outside to the ingredient that enters the pan while preserving it deliciously juicy on the inside.