Peter Georgakopoulos is the talented blogger and photographer behind Souvlaki for the Soul. His interest in cooking was sparked at a young age by his chef father, and, ever since, travelling the world has only broadened his curiosity for more. While he's confessed to a love affair with Thai food, it's his native Greek cuisine that remains close to his heart.
We talk to Peter about his success as a food blogger, winter meals that he's keen to cook, and his take on "food snobs".
Your blog, Souvlaki for the Soul, was featured in UK Times Online’s 50 World’s Best Food Blogs. What makes your blog stand out?
I like to think that anyone who maintains a blog is offering something unique. For me, I love taking Greek recipes and presenting them with a twist, or in a more 'modern" setting. And I especially love to photograph these creations. The visual aspect is very important to me. I would definitely have to say my photography makes the blog stand out.
Being of Greek heritage, are you partial to Mediterranean cuisine? Or has that made you all the more curious about other types of food?
Mum’s lamb roast, Dad’s tzatziki. Yes, these are all staple dishes I have grown up with, but it would certainly get boring eating one type of cuisine all the time. There was a period when I was younger that I shunned a lot of foods. That all changed when I started travelling. Now, the first thing I do when I go somewhere new is explore the local offerings. My love affair with Thai food started this way.
Nowadays, do you get the impression that everyone, in some way, is a foodie?
Yes! And, personally, I think that’s a good thing. It’s fantastic that people are taking more of an interest in what they eat. I think food has become a 'star" in its own right. You can really see the influence TV shows, social media and blogs are having on everyone’s interest and tastebuds.
As a kid, was having a chef for a father as good as it sounds?
Yes and no. It was great watching and learning, but, as I got older and a little more wise in the kitchen, there were a lot of heated debates about changing certain elements in a dish. It was all in good fun, though!
What’s the toughest aspect of food styling?
Getting the food to look just right for that perfect shot. And just to confirm, everything I cook is real and edible. I don’t use baby oil or dry ice in anything! Also, getting the right mix of props and fabrics for a setting can be really daunting for me. It can take me forever to work out what looks best.
You travel often, sampling the world’s cuisines. Which countries do you most enjoy discovering? Which do you feel would take a lifetime to truly grasp?
That’s a hard one! I personally enjoy discovering Thailand. The more I learn about this country, the more I want to eat from there! I think the United States would take a while to grasp. The country is so big and influenced by many cultures. I’ve only eaten on the East and West coasts, but my next culinary adventure is to try and sample some sort of Southern cooking. I’m especially keen to indulge in some New Orleans cuisine.
You’ve said, 'You eat with your eyes", which is probably why your photos are as mouth-watering as they are. What’s one dish that’s near impossible to make 'pretty" or pleasing to the eye?
Meat is definitely a hard one for the camera. Especially when it’s been cooked and it takes on a brown/beige colour. However, I don’t let this phase me. I see it as a challenge.
How much interaction do you have with readers and how much do they influence what you cook?
I’m very lucky that I’ve had a number of opportunities to meet a few readers both here in Australia and overseas. I also keep in touch with a few food bloggers. Of course, when you’re sharing stories of food and recipes, you can’t help but be influenced by others.
Which three dishes are you most looking forward to cooking over winter?
Beef bourguignon, beef wellington and a coconut galaktoboureko [Greek semolina custard pudding]. The first two are a little retro. I’m on this ’70s kick at the moment. The last one is a recipe from another Greek food blogger that I've been dying to try.
For those who haven’t visited the blog yet, what would your pitch be to entice them?
Souvlaki For The Soul – a Sydney food blog featuring Greek and Mediterranean recipes, travel stories, beautiful food photography and food styling.
What career opportunities have come about as a result of your blog?
I’ve managed to photograph a few restaurants here [in Sydney] and a few resorts overseas. I’m now trying to build my photography business and get it to the next level. Ideally, I’d like to freelance for some of the big magazines, too.
What's your food philosophy?
Don’t be a food snob! Embrace all food from 'gutter to gourmet"!
If there’s one thing you can tell your fellow foodies, what would it be?
Eat, drink and be merry. It works for me!
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