Chef Pano Karatassos of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group based in Atlanta, Georgia was in Los Angeles for his new cookbook, Modern Greek Cooking: 100 Recipes for Meze, Main Dishes, and Desserts, fresh from his win on Beating Bobby Flay on The Food Network. He also launched a new line of products that he sourced from Greece – olive oil, feta, olives and greek honey. They all have a story and he personally traveled to each city in Greece to source the products. He held a private dinner on the occasion at Otium in Los Angeles.
The well-attended dinner featured a menu created especially for the event by chef himself as well as resident chef Timothy Hollingsworth. Kumamoto Oyster with Champagne Avgolemono and Imported Greek Ossetra Caviar set the tone for the presentation. This was followed by house made pita bread accompanied by a quadruple threat: Htipiti with roasted red pepper and feta / Melitzanosalata with smoked eggplant / Revithia Salata with coriander and chickpea / Tzatziki with cucumber and yogurt.
The appetizer trio consisted of: Calamari Pasta featuring kalamata olive, zucchini, squash and saffron yogurt, Grilled octopus featuring hen of the woods mushroom, Vidalia Georgia onion, truffle and fennel, and Watermelon salad featuring feta, herb salad and watermelon sorbet. The main course was more than the double bonanza it served to be: Branzino with spanokoriso, spinach, rice and preserved lemon, and a lovely Lambchetta with crispy lamb sweetbreads, lamb chop, lamb pie, coriander yogurt, and more.
Dessert was a blueberry phyllo pie with semolina custard and blueberry sorbet, and of course there was also baklava to end on a sweet note. The featured Greek wines were Skouras Moscofilero, Pelopennese 2018 / Santo Assyrtiko, Santorini 2018 / Hatzidakis Skitali Assyrtiko, Santorini 2017 for whites and Karydas Xinomavro, Naoussa 2015 for red. The cocktail list was a treat with a few choice offerings including a Wallflower with gin, linden flower tea, lemon honey and yogurt, and a Louzo ball with ouzo, St Germaine and sparkling wine.
Both chefs and the restaurant team outdid themselves for a spectacular evening of delicious food and drink. The book can be purchased online as well as the new products Chef Pano has launched. The olive oil and olives are splendid and can be used toward more than 100 recipes he has featured in the cookbook. For lovers of Greek food, it is a fantastic investment and a gift that any home cook, no matter their expertise, will love as an addition to their kitchen and table.