Her journey to the top of the United Kingdom’s premier cooking title began in a tiny village on the island of Crete called Ano Akria, population 35.
Irini Tzortzoglou’s earliest memories of life included the scarcity of luxuries but an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, home-cooked food and a loving environment full of people.
Being raised in a culturally mixed environment– her mother originated from Crete and her father from Asia Minor– Irini calls her upbringing “blessed with different but equally valuable life lessons and principles.”
“Hospitality, responsibility and pride on one side,” she explains and “humility, appreciation and a zest for life on the other.”
Irini eventually ended up in London, where she spent more than three decades working as a banker, but always fulfilling her passion for cooking. One day, back in 2018, she took a leap of faith and decided to apply for the UK’s most watched television cooking shows, Master Chef.
The rest, as they say, is history when Irini cooked her way through show after show– seven grueling weeks of food challenges and an average of 5 million viewers every week– reaching the finals when much to her excitement and surprise, she was crowned UK’s Master Chef on nationwide UK television.
Irini’s winning menu was inspired by her childhood in Crete, Greece. She cooked up red mullet with squid risotto and confit tomatoes to start; griddled rosemary lamb chops with trahanas puree for a main course; and a fig and hazelnut baklava for dessert.
Within months of the win, she had an international book deal and has become, quite literally, an overnight sensation in the United Kingdom.
Under the Olive Tree is a stunning and user-friendly collection of delicious Greek family recipes, stories and wisdom from Irini. She includes accessible, everyday dishes for the home cook, as well as an entertaining section full of tips and tricks for when you have a little more time or want to impress your guests.
The book has received widespread praise in the UK, where it was released earlier in the year. Under the Olive Tree is now available in the United States. Click here to order your copy from The Pappas Post Bookshop or buy from Amazon here. Thank you for supporting our efforts by purchasing through this link.
Praise for Under the Olive Tree
“Glorious and sumptuous. From the simplest dishes through to the more complex, Irini totally captures the gastronomy of Greece.” Victoria Hislop
“This is my favourite cookbook of the year. A total joy from start to finish.” Russell Norman
“A treasure trove of personal and factual information about the food of Greece and its islands.” Simon Rogan
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