Tastings at the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival of Nikolaos Tselementes - credits: Greeking.me
Tastings at the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival of Nikolaos Tselementes - credits: Greeking.me

For the Cycladic island of Sifnos, the inspired gastronomy festival held in the picturesque town of Artemonas is the highlight annual event both locals and visitors are looking forward to. Quite unlike any other foodie festival in Greece, this celebration of Greek cuisine, produce, craftsmanship and artisanry is an entirely free event with an emphasis on encouraging the next generation to continue to experience, build on and improve their national cuisine.

A corner of the festival - credits: Greeking.me

A beautiful corner of the festival - credits: Greeking.me

The festival derives its name from the chef Nikolaos Tselementes, a much-loved public figure all across Greece, whose name is now synonymous with cooking. Born in Sifnos during the 19thcentury, he trained in Athens, Vienna and the United States, becoming one of the most influential chefs and cookery writers during the early 20thcentury. He is often viewed as a modernizer of Greek cuisine and was influenced by French gastronomy, incorporating béchamel sauce and bouillabaisse into traditional Greek recipes.

Cycladic souvenirs - credits: Greeking.me

The festival invites locals from all Cycladic Islands to showcase their own culinary and cultural traditions. During this three-day event, in early September, Artemonas’ main square becomes packed with stands and pavilions of amateur and professional chefs offering visitors free tastings of their most beloved dishes. To accompany this foodie extravaganza are musicians and dancers from all over the Cyclades, arts and crafts booths selling beautifully handmade products, and artists displaying paintings of the islands.

Cookies from Kea island - credits: Greeking.me

Dance from Egypt - credits: Greeking.me

Part of this charming festival is the area for “Tselementakia”. Children, ages 6 to 12, dressed in colorful aprons and chef hats have the opportunity to take part in cooking classes, compete in culinary games, and display the fruits of their labors to their very proud parents.

Greek fava - credits: Greeking.me

Traditional Wedding Dance - credits: Greeking.me

 As in every part of Greece, the Cycladic people are extremely proud of their notable culinary tradition. Owing to the barren landscape of the islands, their cuisine is noticeably frugal and simple, yet deliciously wholesome. Interestingly, due to the 350 years of Venetian rule, a strong Italian influence remains on Cycladic cuisine with ravioli and Italian style puddings being the celebratory food of choice. Many of the islands favor goats and sheep as their main source of produce, using their meat, milk, and coats to man manufacture many famed products across Greece. Naxos and Paros, in particular, have a strong reputation for their high-quality olive oil and wines. However, it is undeniably Santorini which is the reigning monarch of wine production with the outstanding Assyrtiko white wine variety being internationally acclaimed.

Greek wines - credits: Greeking.me

f you feel like honoring Tselementes and making your own contribution to Cycladic cuisine you can when you join us on our Santorini Cooking Class and Wine Tasting experience where, under the guidance of a professional chef, you will learn traditional recipes that will last you a lifetime. Follow this with a discovery of the aromas and flavors of Santorini wines at an authentic, traditional vineyard set in the sweeping beauty of one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

P.S Special thank you to Soffia Akkei for the beautiful photos!