Tessa Kiros combines
her love of food, travel, and world cultures to create
international best-selling cookbooks. Born in London to a
Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father, she and her family
moved to South Africa when Tessa was four. At the age of 18,
she travelled the world, learning all she could about the
world's cultures and traditions, especially about food. Her
latest publiciation, Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection, is
a selection of recipes from five of her previous
cookbooks: Falling Cloudberries, Apples for Jam, Piri Piri Starfish, Venezia, and Food from Many Greek Kitchens. (Australian
and UK members can enter our contest for their chance to win one
of six copies of the book.) EYB posed several questions to Tessa
about her cookbook, travels, and life in Tuscany with her
husband and two children.
You have written 7 cookbooks (plus one journal),
with over 1,100 recipes (we know because we have indexed them all
on Eat Your Books!). How hard was it to decide on which ones made
it into The Recipe
Collection? What were your criteria for
It was favourites across the board, a collection of recipes that
could stand up alone in a separate book. I wanted a fair selection
of soups, fish, desserts and so on. It was a collaboration between
my publisher Murdoch Books and myself.
You have an interesting heritage. How has this
impacted your food tastes?
I love the food I have grown up with, in particular my mother's
gravadlax, herrings, cinnamon and cardamom buns and my father's
lemon and oregano lamb. I think I have grown up learning to eat
foods from different heritages and to really appreciate those.
These are the things I really value in my work, in research and
when collecting my recipes.
You have also travelled a lot, living in lots of
different countries. What has been the effect of each place on your
Well, it has really been integrated into our way of life here
and the way I approach things. It makes me want to be able to
recreate the things I lived and saw elsewhere in my kitchen
wherever I am. I like to mix things like fresh coriander, avocado
and lime into my everyday life in Italy for example, where these
ingredients are not used much by the Italians. I also like to baste
my meat with barbecue marinades and this mixing of flavours makes
me want to travel more. I love to learn the way things are done
from the people of the place. I think it has made me appreciate the
singular approach to cooking of a culture, as well as an eclectic
Is there anywhere you have travelled to or lived
that you really did not care for the food?
Nothing comes to mind, nowhere that I have stayed for longer
than a day but I can't really comment on places that I just drove
through or passed by. Most places that I have stayed long enough to
lift up a knife and fork I have found interesting because I think
my interest is also beyond just what hits the palate necessarily. I
am fascinated by why people eat what they do and when, and what
they do with the products their land gives them and so on.
Now you have children, how has your travelling
Ha! I always say the thing I love about Italian school is the 3
months summer break! It's such an opportunity. Apart from this, it
can be a challenge especially as I like to take my family with when
I travel, so we might go for a shorter time, or sometimes I will
travel alone if necessary for work.
Are your children as passionate about food as you
are? Do they eat the same food as you and your
They love food, but they definitely have their own tastes. They
like jam shortbreads, spaghetti with meatballs, huge schnitzels,
scaloppini al limone, stuffed vegetables, big roasted dishes with
potatoes, Mexican grills wrapped in tortillas, spiced yoghurt on
everything, croissants....things like this. We eat mostly the same
food, but I know what they won't appreciate. They do not appreciate
things like liver, small birds, tripe and innards but they
certainly appreciate the seasonal things here and the way people
eat, so love it for example when asparagus come into season here.
They also very much appreciate tasting things in new places when we
travel and getting to know the food there.
Your books have been influenced by the places you
have lived. Which people have also been an
Many people. My mother and father. My Cypriot grandfather and my
Finnish grand uncle. Corinne Young and Liz - wonderful cooks who I
worked with in South Africa in a Mediterranean restaurant. Ketty in
Athens who has a wonderful restaurant cafe (Avissinia) where I
worked when she first opened. Angela Dwyer - a truly fantastic chef
who first took me in to the kitchen in London. She is in Wales now
and still a big inspiration. Herve Pronzato - a French chef I
worked with in Athens. My mother-in-law here in Tuscany and many
more people I have met along the way. It is never-ending
Is there any one recipe in The Recipe
Collection that is a personal favourite?
I love the prawns with lemon, piri piri, garlic and feta. Also
lamb with lemon and oregano. They have been part of my life for as
long as I can remember.