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Maria Benardis

Teacher, motivational speaker, cookbook author, wellness coach, and all-around champion of eating healthy the Greek way, Maria Benardis has taken her mission from Sydney, Australia, to New York City. And she has dubbed it Greekalicious.

Born in Australia, Benardis went to live with her Greek grandmother on the island of Psara when she was just a little girl. There she learned to cook and to grow the vegetables that went into lovingly prepared meals. Years later, when she was back in Australia, and she was overcoming health problems, these were the things that became most important in her philosophy of cooking and healing—beautiful produce cooked in a healthy Mediterranean way.

Benardis was inspired to write two cookbooks, Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health and My Greek Family Table. The latter features recipes like Kourkouto (aspasagus, polenta, and feta pie) and Pan-Fried Fish with Avgolemono-Braised Greens. Since 2014 she has been spreading the word to New Yorkers through her Greekalicious brand, which incorporates elements of ancient Greek philosophy about health and nutrition into her classes, she says, as well as the spirit of cooking with “agape.” It means unconditional love.

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