Interview With Michael Psilakis of Eos, Part One

Is Chef Psilakis the most cerebral chef around?
Is Chef Psilakis the most cerebral chef around?

​Somehow we sensed having chef Michael Psilakis'a stamp on Miami was going to change this city's culinary image for the better, and -- what do you know? -- we were spot on.

Our ten-question query with him in January was tongue-in-cheek, so we thought we'd get down to business this time and really get to the marrow of what he's all about.

This interview was conducted by telephone from one of his kitchens in New York. But there's no need for a lengthy introduction. (Be aware, however, you have to have a strong stomach to get through parts of this.) We'll let the man give you the dish. 

New Times: Congratulations on your second James Beard nomination. 

Michael Psilakis: Thanks.

It was well deserved. But I was sad to see you didn't make the rough cut

I've done that only once before with Anthos. [Editor's note: Psilakis recently left this restaurant, the spot where he earned a Michelin star.] But when you think about all the restaurants that open in a given year, it's amazing we were able to--in a hotel--even capture the long list, for Miami, for Eos, and for the Viceroy. It's a really great restaurant and it's doing really great food. Everybody down there was very excited about it.

When we first met, the ink wasn't even dried on your contract

for Eos. Has the concept changed since then?


came in there with something different than what we ended up doing. We

were going to do a much more formal restaurant, then the powers over

there sat me down one day and said, "Do you really think this is the

concept we should do here?" Honestly, with the economy the way it was

going and with everything in my heart telling me it would be great for

me but not for the hotel and not necessarily for Miami, I felt I would

be doing a disservice if I went forward with that. 


feel the James Beard Award came because this was the right restaurant.

Eos is a restaurant that really tries to get people to take on the same

thought process that you have down there, which is "enjoy life." And not

necessarily have to think about how you're sitting in a chair to have

to do that. For me, anyway, I think that's part of the evolution of

dining. The longer you have in the evolution of a city's dining scene,

the more you see it moving toward that place where it allows you to feel

comfortable in the environment, and yet the food is articulate in a

very sophisticated way.

Are you saying Miami

may be ahead of its time?

I think so.

There's a lot of interesting food going on there. People would be very

surprised at what's being accomplished. What happens is oftentimes we

put a lot focus on major food cities, like New York.


Miami offers you is a platform to really express yourself in a way that

people will be very receptive to because they're very open-minded and

very eager to eat new things and different things. That's part of the

dynamic of what that city has to offer.


no one would call Eos a "Greek restaurant," but what's decidedly Greek

about it?

Well, me, of course. [Laughs.] 


your favorite spice?

Cinnamon. When I'm

making Bolognese sauce people ask me, "What's that flavor?" When I tell

them "cinnamon," they look at me cross-eyed. But it's used a tremendous

amount in Greek cooking and in the Mediterranean.


unusual food combination you've ever attempted?


when I first starting cooking in New York City, I needed something to

grab the attention of critical reviewers and writers and I put together a

seven-course offal menu.

Did you say,

"awful menu?"

Seven courses of organs.

It started this craze of offal. I was written up in all these

magazines, beyond food publications. This guy from BusinessWeek wanted

to write an article and he brought Anthony Bourdain with him to do this

tasting. After he wrote this article, I got a call from this group that

was, like, an Offal Club, and they wanted me to do this tasting for them

and they wanted me to try and shock them. I remember the first course

was a soup that was a warm goat's head cheese served with roasted goat


YUCK! Is this stuff you grew up on?


but we used to eat the goat head a lot. 


we made a head cheese and we allowed the head cheese to sit on a plate

with the eyes. Then we poured a goat consommé that had been clarified

over the head cheese and the heat cheese melted and all the little bits

that were in the head cheese burst into the soup.


wasn't for the weak of stomach--let's leave it like that. 


from the offal stuff, how would you describe your word in five words?


someone on a journey

How would you describe

yourself, as a person and as a chef?

As a

person, I'm complicated in many ways and simple in others. I'm very

black and white. As a chef, my motivation behind cooking is to spread

the word of Greek food and hopefully get people excited about my dad's

country and what we do over there. When I get to the hotel I'm a freaky,

workaholic type.

Do you find Miami's palate

different from New York's?

Miami has a

very interesting food scene. It's very different from New York. Nowhere

else in the world is like New York. It's such a different mecca of food

because of all the different nationalities of food represented here.

It's insane. Miami, to me, felt like a much more European style. New

York is super fast, and super crazy. Miami is more like, live for the

day, live for the moment. Savor the beauty of what food and life has to

offer. You have people who get dressed up just to go food shopping.

You'd never find that in New York. And the combination of sexy and

healthy eating, which sort of rolls into that sexiness... was really

what I was trying to do when we created Eos. 


have waiters in jeans and sneakers and there's a reason for that. I

wanted people to feel, like, completely unintimidated by the environment

so they can really enjoy the beauty of what Kelly Wearstler did to create the

platform of the painting we were trying to put together. Let the food be

sophisticated in an environment that allowed you to feel comfortable.

And we were able to do that successfully. 


heard you just got back from Australia. What were you doing there?


was asked a while back to participate in an annual food festival that

they have in Melbourne. It has a really fantastic dining scene down

there, especially with the genre of food that I particularly fall into,

that Middle Eastern-slash-Mediterranean thing. They're actually very far

ahead of us in terms of having educated the dining public there about

this particular type of food. I mean, Lebanese is something they order

in. You don't even get that in New York. 


do you think that is?

I think there's a

lot of transplanted Middle Eastern and Mediterranean people there. As

far as Greek is concerned, it's the second largest population in the

entire world. The only other city in the world that has more Greeks in

it is Athens.

I had no idea. Did you know that

before you got there?

I did. Years ago... they

weren't very forward thinking with their Greek food but there was a lot

of it down there. 

Then there's a chef who had

recently opened a couple of restaurants down there about two years ago,

his name is George

Calombaris, who also is doing modern Greek-type food. There's not a

lot of us doing that. We actually did a dinner together. It was a Master

Chef series. I did a couple of classes and did a combined tasting with

George. That was a lot of fun. It was basically trying to open people's

eyes up to what Greek food can be. 

Get out

the Kleenex for Part Two of our Q&A with Michael Psilakis, as we

chat about his family and plans for the future.


at the Viceroy hotel

485 Brickell Ave., Miami


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