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Maria Loi

At her Loi Estiatorio, in midtown Manhattan, chef Maria Loi offers a diverse taste of Greece, from the sophisticated to classic village favorites. A whole salt-baked fish, for example, with seasonal greens, lemon, and olive oil is on the menu alongside a simple delicious eggplant stuffed with vegetables and béchamel (melitzanes papoutsakia).

A native of Greece, Loi has a toehold in both countries—in the Greek port city of Nafpaktos, she launched restaurant Kouzina Maria Loi. Coming to the U.S. in 2011, after being named the official ambassador of Greek gastronomy by the Chef’s Club of Greece, she opened her first restaurant, Loi, that year. Closing it in 2014, she then opened Loi Estiatoria, a smaller space, in 2015.

She is the author of 34 cookbooks, including the 2014 title The Greek Diet, written with athlete Sarah Toland, which explores healthy, delicious eating the Mediterranean way. She has cooked for President Barack Obama and guests at the White House in 2012, has launched a line of pasta, dips, and cookware, and has made numerous national television appearances to spread the word on the benefits and joys of cooking and eating Greek food.

Loi is also deeply community oriented. She is a founder of Elpida (the Greek word meaning “hope”), a foundation to support children with cancer. She oversees a fund that grants university scholarships to underprivileged students, and has worked closely with The Center for Discovery and its Department of Nourishment Arts as a DaVinci Master Chef. In June of 2015, Chef Loi received the prestigious Women’s Award from the Women Together Foundation at the United Nations.