Talented and distinguished Greek chef Niko Koulousias is officially one of the 24 selected chefs enlisted to prepare the menu for the royal wedding reception of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, which will take place at the Windsor Castle Hall following their wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19 May.
“I am certainly very pleased to have joined the team and I look forward to preparing some mouth-watering and appetizing dishes for the royal couple, adding a small taste of Greece,” Koulousias told Neos Kosmos.
The chef was born in Germany after his parents migrated from Kozani and Nafpaktos seeking a better future.
Since going on to study gastronomy, Koulousias has divided his time working as a chef for some of the most prominent hotel corporations and restaurants around the world.
Preparations for the royal wedding reception menu commenced on 11 March, but he says the final details are yet to be signed off.
“We have all been working around the clock trying to explore different options to offer a satisfying menu for the guests, as well as the royal couple who, under the watchful eyes of the world, are keen to have a dinner menu that reflects different tastes including a small variety of traditional royal British dishes, as well as dishes with a strong Mediterranean influence,” says Koulousias.
“Both Prince Harry and Meghan, together with their royal advisors, have been very open in their communication with the team making the whole process a pleasant experience for everyone involved.
“They are both very hands-on, but at the same time, they are very happy to take our feedback and suggestions on board,” says Koulousias.
The chef revealed that the royal couple have a special place in their hearts for Greece.
“Harry and Meghan love Greece and visit the islands often. In fact, one of their best men is actually of Greek background,” he says.
Quizzing Koulousias on the royal wedding reception menu, the famous chef reveals that although nothing has yet been finalized, two key ingredients from Greece will be included in some of the dishes.
“Overall there will most likely be eight different dishes and although we can’t reveal all the details at this stage, the royal couple has requested we use Greek olive oil and have also agreed on using Greek saffron from my homeland Kozani,” he says.
Despite the significance of being selected as part of the culinary team, Koulousias doesn’t appear to be particularly nervous undertaking such a big assignment.
“At the end of the day we are all experienced professionals keen to deliver the best outcome for all parties involved. We started working on the menu a few weeks back and we currently have a clearer idea of what we are expected to prepare, although the final touches are yet to be finalized as some of the distinguished guests haven’t confirmed their food preferences,” he says.
“For example, we are still waiting for the brief on the menu we need to prepare for popular British pop group [the] Spice Girls, who will perform at the wedding reception and have completely different dietary requirements to the other guests.
“However, we do know that David Beckham wants all his food steamed,” reveals the talented chef.
It’s not surprising Koulousias made the final cut to be included in the ‘Royal Collection Trust’. He has an impressive CV with broad experience, having worked in restaurants throughout Europe, the United States, and Africa cooking for a host of prominent personalities, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I met President Putin whilst working at a restaurant in Russia,” he says.
“When he came in, I had already prepared rabbit stew, also known [in Greek] as stifado, which is what he ended up having and thoroughly enjoyed.”
Currently the 37-year-old is dividing his time between the UK and Greece, residing in Kozani with his wife and three-year-old daughter.
“Greece is my base. I particularly enjoy leading a simple life and consider myself a country boy. In saying that, I enjoy traveling the world and sharing my passion for food with restaurateurs who are keen to open up Mediterranean-inspired restaurants,” he says, and it is a passion that started at a young age thanks to his grandparents.
“My parents had to work really hard in Germany and had no support, so as soon as I was born they decided it was best for me to spend the first few years of my life with my yiayia and pappou in Kozani. I lived with them for six years and my zest and love for cooking was instilled by my yiayia who was an excellent cook,” recalls Koulousias.
“I love cooking, and my hometown, and I most certainly love Greece.
“Although I was born in Germany, I feel 100 per cent Greek and my goal for the royal reception is to do my best and make Greeks all around the world proud for their cuisine and produce.”