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A chef’s Culinary Chronicles
10/03/2021

An Interview With Lefteris Iliadis

Born and raised in Crete, Lefteris Iliadis found his calling as a chef at an early age—a passion that took him into the kitchens of acclaimed Greek and international hotels until it pulled him back home. Inspired by the island’s rich UNESCO-protected culinary heritage, Iliadis, who heads the culinary offerings at Cretan Malia Park, believes that the most flavorful food is made simply with the highest quality, fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. He considers it a part of his job to inspire and educate guests about the surrounding bounty by taking them on tours of the organic kitchen garden and exploring the resort’s botanical gardens.

Originally published by Design Hotels

 

"I’m proud of being a part of conceptual process of Cretan Malia’s organic kitchen garden. We developed it to resemble gardens that you would find in the homes of every Cretan village. There’s no greater joy than being able to cultivate the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you’ll later use to prepare dinner. To me, this is an invaluable gift to our guests!
- Lefteris Iliadis

What is your favorite childhood memory of food?

My entire childhood is filled with flavors and scents. I still remember the aroma of gemista (traditional Greek dish of oven baked stuffed peppers and tomatoes) filling our home every summer. My mother prepared them with fresh, seasonal vegetables and lots of aromatic mint handpicked from our own garden.

How did you learn to become a chef?

I’ve had a professional training in a cooking school, but I have to say that I’ve learned the most useful cooking tips watching my mother prepare family dinners.

What has working in so many kitchens taught you?

Cooking is a very earthy and personal process. Only if I feel perfectly content with what I’ve prepared will I make others content too. You really need to love what you’re doing and enjoy every bit of the process, starting from chopping to baking.

What is the one ingredient from the island that you can’t live without?

The Cretan olive oil, which is low in acidity and has an exceptional flavor. Olive trees have been cultivated in Crete for centuries and olive oil has always been the principal source of fat in the kitchens here. Our ancestors called it the elixir of life and it is credited for the islanders’ famous longevity.

What is your secret weapon in terms of either spice/ingredient/technique?

The rich flavor of oregano and Crete herbs that I use in almost all my dishes, as well as slow cooking in a woodfire oven.

Describe a perfect day out eating on the island.

Strolling around the seaside villages of Crete, sitting at a picturesque small ouzeri (Greek tavern) by the sea, where I can enjoy fresh seafood meze and a chilled glass of ouzo along with good company.

 

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The Phāea Farmers Program

Phāea Resorts are committed to hiring local staff wherever possible and embrace that many work as farmers in low season, as Crete is a highly self-sustainable island known for its agriculture. We are investing in our employees’ agricultural efforts with the Phāea Farmers Program, providing support through collaborations with agronomists to train in organic farming methods and sustainable land use. Ultimately the program is creating more value and quality production and the resorts can source the highest quality local produce for use at the resorts.

There are currently 18 employees in the program cultivating 52 land parcels reaching a total of 19 local communities around Crete. Training programs include how to plant vegetables, theoretical and practical trainings on soil health and sustainable crop management, agriculture productivity and pruning practices in selected olive grove and vineyards.

A variety of products are produced including aloe, grapes, wine, herbs, honey, fruits (apples, pears, strawberries, bananas, citrus (orange, lemons, mandarins), olives/olive oil, seasonal vegetables (tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants, potatoes), dairy products, and raki, a traditional, Cretan grape-based spirit.

Crete reimagined through a sunstainable lens

Crete’s an island of superlatives. The largest Greek island is rich in both ancient history—going back to the Minoan civilization 4,000 years ago—and flora, a botanical Eden thanks to its setting between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It’s no wonder that  Cretan Malia Park, wants to do its utmost to protect this unique corner of the world.

With a certification from the iconic Blue Flag eco-label, Cretan Malia Park’s dedication to responsible living is deep rooted. The hotel’s expansive botanical gardens that are filled with wild foliage, palm trees, cacti, Indian fig, and local banana trees play a significant role in the layout and design of the spaces.

Words Vidula Kotian | Originally published by Design Hotels

Maison Flâneur – a dreamy collaboration

Cretan Malia Park is excited to announce its new partnership with Maison Flâneur and Design Hotels™. In an exciting collaboration, Maison Flâneur is presenting a curated, limited edition of Cretan Malia’s art & design items, furniture & lighting decorative pieces and a unique catalogue of homeware.

For the new nomad that seeks interesting interiors pieces that are rooted in a destination.

Have you ever fantasised about the interiors of a hotel or restaurant to the point that you were tempted to cling onto an intricately decorated vase and leave with it under your arm?

Such objects can linger in our memory long after we’ve returned home – but the Maison Flâneur team have the answer.

Agapi & Contantza Sbokou Recreating Crete

When hospitality is part of your legacy—as it is for Agapi and Costantza Sbokou, whose father founded the family hotel business—you feel a sense of responsibility to uphold the traditions that have helped the company grow over the decades. When you are from Crete that responsibility is magnified. “Hospitality is an essential element of our DNA,” explains Costantza. “We Cretans open our homes to our guests. We welcome them to our land in a unique and authentic way.” Indeed, “authenticity” takes on new meaning at Cretan Malia Park, marking a distinct evolution in the sisters’ vision of hospitality.

Words by Ken Baron | Originally published by Design Hotels

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