Coast Monthly sits down with local cooks and food lovers for a chat.
Petros Jaferis cooked elbow-to-elbow with four other chefs in January as they made sliders in the crowded James Beard House kitchen in New York.
The activity honored the five winners of the Blended Burger Project competition, a James Beard Foundation program that asked chefs to blend ground meat with chopped mushrooms to create something tasty, healthy and sustainable.
Jaferis, who is now chef at Jimmy’s on the Pier, 9001 Seawall Blvd. in Galveston, was one of five national winners in the contest. He was the chef at the Houston Yacht Club in La Porte when he entered the contest, competing with 413 other chefs in the nation.
His winning burger featured a beef chuck, cremini mushroom and caper patty on a brioche bun with basil aioli with feta melted over the patty and topped with a mini-Greek salad and paprika oil.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Jaferis worked in the ships’ provisions field, making sure chefs on ships stocked their galleys with the right ingredients. He had fun talking to the ship chefs and started picking up cooking tips, he said. The inspiration led him to culinary school.
He moved from Florida to Texas in 2013 to be with his wife, whom he met while serving in the military.
“I got a couple of lucky breaks,” Jaferis said.
One of those was cooking the send-off dinner for the Olympic sailing team at the Houston Yacht Club. He made Mediterranean grilled chicken with a buckwheat risotto for the athletes.
His menu at Jimmy’s on the Pier includes po’boys and gumbo, but he plans to add to the offerings, he said.
“We’ll keep in line with the Cajun menu, and we’ll bring in more cuisine on the side,” Jaferis said. “We’ll slide in some citrus.”
My favorite dish is … my grandmother’s pastitsio.
My favorite kitchen gadget is … a Dalstrong knife.
My guilty pleasure is … beer-and-oyster shooters.
Sweet or savory … savory.
I’m addicted to … instant coffee.
My favorite restaurant is … Cedars Cafe in Melbourne, Fla.
The dish I can’t live without … a good hamburger.
Olive oil or butter? Can’t I have both?
Celebrity I would most like to cook for … Bruce Campbell.
My biggest food pet peeve is … underseasoning.
Red or white? Red.
One thing I would never eat … everything is negotiable.
My favorite ingredient to work with is … garlic.
My favorite condiment is … Crystal Hot Sauce.
My last meal on Earth would be … grilled octopus.
Jaferis shared a recipe from his grandmother for a simple salad for four to six people.
Horiatiki (Greek salad)
6-7 Roma tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 English cucumber
1⁄4 cup Kalamata olives
3 tablespoons feta
4 tablespoons dry oregano
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Quarter tomatoes into wedges, and then cut wedges in half.
Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Cut slices from cucumber halves to about ¼-inch thickness.
Cut onion into 1⁄8-inch slices.
Place tomatoes, cucumbers and onion into a bowl, then add oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Continuously and gently stir until oil and juices form a “dressing.”
Serve generously with a slice of feta, or cubes or crumbles, on the salad.