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An Interview with Tonia Buxton - Renowned Celebrity Cook, Television Presenter and Food Writer
This interview is all about the fabulous Tonia Buxton and her thoughts on Cypriot and Greek cuisine!
Tonia Buxton is a celebrity cook, television presenter and food writer best known for her highly successful shows My Greek Kitchen & My Cypriot Kitchen.
On the show Tonia focuses on Greece’s and Cyprus’s culture and way of life, traveling around many of the islands and cities exploring the different food specialties of the islands, while cooking several Greek and Cypriot meals and meeting with the locals. She also introduces her family and what she loves best about Hellenic life.
We wanted to find out more about Tonia and her thoughts as to why it is important to promote Cyprus cuisine internationally. This is what we discovered!
1. At what age did you realise, hang on, this is it; food is my passion, particularly Greek-Cypriot cuisine?
I’m not sure I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment I just always loved food & knew ours was the best!
2. How did you start off in the world of gastronomy and reach where you are today, a renowned celebrity chef loved by many globally?
I originally started because I was very interested in good nutrition, the first book I wrote was about holistic pregnancy & the nutrition needed, so much of it was in the Greek Cypriot diet, that it got me thinking, there should be a show on Greek Cuisine, & that’s when I starting writing format ideas. That and a LOT of hard work & determination!
3. Who was or still is your biggest inspiration in the culinary world?
Old school inspiration has to be Keith Floyd, his shows are just brilliant, I adore Jamie Oliver, I love the way he cooks. As for the girls well very sexy, rock ’n’ roll Gizzi Erskine is a wonderful Chef & I’m just in love with Sabrina Ghayour’s perfect book Persiana.
4. What do you think it is about Cypriot cuisine that sets it apart from any other? How would you explain to someone the difference between Greek and Cypriot dishes?
Cypriot cuisine evolved quite differently from many European cuisines. What makes it very different from our Greek cousins is our geography as well as all the different invaders & occupiers of the island over the centuries, each has left its mark which has enriched our cuisine.
5. How did the making of My Cypriot Kitchen come about? Were you surprised at how quickly its popularity grew internationally?
I had already made 2 series of My Greek Kitchen, which had had global acclaim, so I knew that My Cypriot Kitchen would do well, there is a great worldwide appetite for our food & culture. It was perfect that the C.T.O. sponsored the series, it is a great shame they have not sponsored more. I cannot think of a single better way to promote Cyprus & bring the right type of discerning tourist to the island than my shows.
6. Do you think the gastronomy game in Cyprus needs to be upped so as to increase its global appeal? Would you say that the proper promotion of Cypriot cuisine, even within Cyprus, is sorely lacking?
I do feel that Cyprus has a long way to go in promoting it’s cuisine & wonderful indigenous ingredients. We should be doing Gastro-tours, Ecco-tours where people can come pick their own
I do feel Cyprus has a long way to go to successfully promote it’s cuisine. It needs to be more true to itself, & forget this Xenomania we have. Cypriot indigenous ingredients are the best!! We should be doing Gast-tours & Ecco-tours like they do in France & Italy – we have so much more to offer than them.
We could utilise the skills of the Grandmothers & housewives in these dyeing villages, get tourist to come pick their own olives, distil it to olive oil, have someone teach them how to make olive bread, do the same with our wonderful vines.
The problem is no one wants to make the effort to organise this, or more to the point, they are not willing to pay for this type of organisation. TV would be the best promotion for this.
7. What advice would you give home chefs who are inspired by your style of cookery?
Always use the best ingredients you can get, and there is NO better than what is growing in your garden/village/town and ……. just get in the kitchen & get cooking!
8. What is next for Tonia Buxton? Any plans of another season of My Cypriot Kitchen? Maybe? Possibly? Please!
I have a few projects on the go at the moment, I have a new publisher & I’m writing a book on how Greek nutrition can improve your health & life, so that is taking up a lot of my time. As a historian too I am working mixing my passion for history with my passion for food so I will be giving lectures & demonstrations on a the Luxury cruise MV Sapphire in April, I always keep my hand in live TV in the UK, but of-course what I love most are my television series. The landscape has changed now in TV, where before a Channel would like your ideas & commission & pay for them, now everything is sponsored.
So whilst I do have the backing of some great television channels, it is quite a challenge getting sponsorship, but I am still working towards that.