To Turkey and Greece, then home with Ella Mittas
Ella Mittas is a Greek-Australian chef and food writer who hosts cooking classes and curates and caters events in collaboration with various venues across Melbourne. She has built her career in food working under Brigitte Hafner, Annie Smithers and Ismail Tosun in Australia, honing her skills in London at NOPI, in Tel Aviv at Romano and in Istanbul at Lokanta Maya.
Below Ella shares a personal essay and two recipes from her debut book Ela! Ela! – To Turkey and Greece, Then Home.
Photography by Jessica Grilli.
My father’s side of the family is Greek. They all live on one street, in houses next door to each other. There are holes cut between backyard fences, so everyone can be together easily. That one small section of the street has given me a sense of community and belonging I haven’t been able to locate in the rest of my life. It seems separate from the rest of Australia, but it’s a version of Greece abstracted from the real thing; its traditions are built on distant memories. The language spoken is Gringlish, a mix of both places. I’ve always felt that somewhere inside that place, among the carved-out fences, is where my true identity lies. I looked for more concrete examples of that elusive sense of community for years: a place where it exists in its entirety, where it was set in stone. That was the conception of my food journey: travelling and working in Greece to try to find it. The recipes I cook now are a mix of things I saw, ate and was taught. But years of cooking them have turned them into something more my own. I consider my work with food to be the ultimate homage to my family. Through all my travel, roads only led home. It turned out I felt most full in Little Greece in Brunswick, Melbourne. Now I use my work to recreate the meals that make me feel at home.
The inspiration for this photo shoot was to combine traditional dishes with more contemporary elements. The lace tablecloth, gold jewellery, and beans that my grandmother used to make but placed on Mud porcelain with their clean aesthetic. The recipes below are from my debut cookbook Ela! Ela! To Turkey and Greece, Then Home which can be purchased at ellamittas.com.