Athonite Chef Epiphanios of Mylopotamos: I would be happy to cook for the Patriarch of Romania
In addition to many lay personalities, the Chef of Mount Athos has so far cooked for four Primates of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch and Russia.
In an exclusive interview with the Basilica News Agency marking the International Chefs’ Day (October 20), Father Epiphanios of the Mylopotamos Cell of the Great Lavra thought of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel.
“I would be happy to cook for the Patriarch of Romania,” the Athonite monk said.
Although he participated in world-renowned culinary competitions and his cookbooks sell in millions of copies, Father Epiphanios remained anchored in the monastic reality and told us that “the passion for cooking comes from love and a sense of sacrifice for one’s neighbour.” Why? We invite you to find out from the interview below.
Basilica.ro: How did you choose monastic life? Where does your passion for the art of cooking come from? How do the two reconcile?
Father Epiphanios: Becoming a monk is not an option. It is an inclination from God, that is, God calls you or you must have an inclination, that is, to decide for monasticism from young childhood. The passion for cooking comes from the love and the feeling of offering to our fellow man. Christ told us that in order to be first, we must all serve, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” In fact, monasticism and cooking are very compatible.
Basilica.ro: What is your favourite dish that represents you and you cook most often?
Father Epiphanios: Dusky grouper (rofos fish) with white sauce, with olive oil and lemon.
Basilica.ro: Do you have a favourite ingredient that you often use in the kitchen?
Father Epiphanios: Spices, mainly cumin.
Basilica.ro: Do you have a routine that you follow every time you start cooking?
Father Epiphanios: Of course. We light the fire first, I pray and then I proceed to cook, depending on the food.
Basilica.ro: Is there a difference between monastic and secular cuisine?
Father Epiphanios: There is a big difference. The monastic cuisine is governed by church rules and you should know that the monks on Mount Athos do not eat any meat.
Basilica.ro: If you were to cook for a specific person, who would it be?
Father Epiphanios: I would be happy to cook for the Patriarch of Romania. Besides, I have already cooked for the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Patriarchs of Russia, Jerusalem and Antioch.
Basilica.ro: Which saints do you have the strongest devotion to?
Father Epiphanios: The Mother of God and Saint Euphrosynus.
Basilica.ro: Can you describe your culinary style in 5 words?
Father Epiphanios: Pure ingredients, olive oil, onion, salt, lemon.
Basilica.ro: Can you tell us a difficult time in the kitchen that you overcame with divine help?
Father Epiphanios: It was a very difficult time when a pot of boiling soup spilt on my feet. I saved it with the help of the Virgin Mary.
Basilica.ro: Please recommend a quick recipe for Basilica.ro readers.
Father Epiphanios: Fast and tasty (in thirteen minutes).
Pasta (penne) with tuna. Boil the pasta, drain and put them in a bowl. Add the tuna and pour hot olive oil over them and mix very well. Add salt, pepper, parsley, and mix. Ready to serve. GOOD APPETITE!
Basilica.ro: We warmheartedly thank you.
Father Epiphanios of Mylopotamos
Father Epiphanios is perhaps the most famous Athonite monk together with Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi, but for quite different reasons.
A connoisseur of the wines produced from the Athonite vineyards and exported all over Europe, Father Epiphanios is also a talented cook with international recipes and the best ambassador of Athonite cuisine abroad.
He enjoyed hearts and stomachs in France, Italy, UK, Spain, Germany, and elsewhere in the world. He cooked at the renowned restaurants all across Europe at the invitation of famous chefs, while his book about the cuisine of the ‘Garden of the Mother of God’ was translated and published in seven languages.