Celebrating Casual Entertaining and the Greek Lifestyle
Portraits by ChiChi Ubina
Entertaining expert, caterer and restaurateur, Nikki Glekas invites us into her backyard oasis for a fantastic Labor Day celebration and toast to her Greek heritage.
Nikki began her career as the owner of EOS, an award-winning Greek restaurant in Stamford, CT. She expanded into events and catering when she opened her premiere events facility, Bank Street Events, in Stamford. Exclusive partnerships at Chelsea Piers Connecticut and Noroton Yacht Club quickly followed, gaining her the reputation as the owner of the go-to events and catering company in the area.
In addition to her work in the culinary and entertaining spaces, Nikki is the host of Nikki’s Modern Mediterranean, a YouTube show that features her family’s Greek recipes, as well as her well-honed entertaining tips and tricks.
Nikki and her husband are first generation Greek Americans. Their parents were born in Greece and came to America in the 1970s. Nikki is from the islands of Rhodes and Chios and Jimmy is from Sparta and Tripoli. They live in Westport with their four children, and adorable canine sidekick, Bentley.
“Every year, we travel as a family to Greece and I am inspired by our lifestyle there. Within a couple of days of arriving, I’m back to embracing the laid-back culture and sitting back and enjoying my surroundings.
The food is amazing at every restaurant we visit. The simplicity of the décor inspires me. Restaurants utilize so many natural elements, sometimes the table centerpieces will be potted fresh herbs which smell great and are useful. Everyone uses different shades of blue in their decorations, which is enhanced by the blue ocean on the horizon. Greek cuisine is made with olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs and I love sampling the same dishes in different parts of Greece to see their variations on the same dish.
We visit family and I love chatting with my aunts and uncles, their wisdom is inspiring.
The Labor Day Blue White and Lemon theme was influenced by our trip to Greece this summer and my Clase Azul bottles that are repurposed for décor around my outdoor kitchen. I paired the blue and white theme with yellow because of a popular Limoncello Champagne cocktail we are serving at our yacht club restaurant this summer.
I love cooking food with lemony flavors, and found a lovely yellow dress from Anthropologie to complete the theme. Since my tablescape is outdoors by the pool, I carry the theme as far as setting yellow and white beach towels on my lounge chairs.
Home entertaining is more popular than ever. Many people did home renovations and projects during the pandemic, so now it’s time to show them off to their friends and family.
In the past year, I have catered and designed all kinds of wonderful events from elegant dinner parties of eight to large backyard summer bashes for 200 guests.
When clients have children included in their plans, we make sure we have menus and entertainment for both the kids and adults.”
In a pitcher
Pour 1 bottle of Limoncello
1 bottle of Champagne (processco)
Fill a glass with ice and pour cocktail over the ice, top off with club soda and garnish with a fresh lemon round
A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of preparing whole fish. Hopefully this recipe and episode will show you how easy it actually is! This was incredibly popular at our Greek restaurant and is really fun to make in the summer months.
Makes 4 servings
4 lbs branzino (each fish is about 1 pound) scaled and cleaned by the fishmonger
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
1 – 2 tablespoons capers
Parsley for garnish
1. Place the branzino on a baking sheet or clean surface for preparation.
2. Make the sauce by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano
3. Rub the fish on all sides with a light coating of the sauce. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper on both sides of the fish.
4. Bring your grill to high heat.
5. Place the fish in a grilling cage if you have one and place the fish on the grill and cook it for about 7 minutes per side, or until the skin is really crispy and the fish is cooked through.
6. Return the fish to the baking sheet or surface to filet it.
7. Cut the head and tail off of the fish.
8. To filet it: cut it down the center on one side. Then, use a knife to remove the fin of the fish. Open the fish where you cut it down the center and remove the backbone. Carefully feel around the fish for any remaining bones and remove them.
9. Transfer the fileted fish to a platter for serving. Sprinkle the remaining lemon sauce over the fish.
10. Place the lemon wedges on top and sprinkle the fish with the capers and garnish with parsley.
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves cleaned from stem
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves cleaned from stem
1 tsp black pepper
1.5 cups chicken broth
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a large mixing bowl add olive oil, lemon zest, juice of two lemons, and potato wedges. Toss to coat.
3. Evenly spread the potato mixture into a baking dish, making sure to include the excess oil mixture.
4. sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper and oregano.
5. using a measuring cup, carefully pour the chicken broth into the corners of the dish, making sure to not remove the seasoning from the potatoes.
6. Top with fresh thyme + rosemary
7. Bake for 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork and golden brown.
8. Using the last lemon, slice to add as garnish for serving.