Fancy Peasant x Mama and Tata
July 26, 2023·
MAMA AND TATA: I’m always looking for new recipes that are easy, clean, and have very limited prep, as I have very little time! Greek food, primarily plant based, is delicious, healthy and filled with colors that feed the soul. My dear friend, Anastasia Ganias-Gellin, recently started her own catering business and recipe book called the Fancy Peasant, surrounding the love of her roots, her family, and her culture. Her food is made with love, and is authentic, down to the olive oil she sources from a farm in Greece, her secret weapon! Her passion for cooking stemmed from the love of her father who passed away this year, and she is honoring him by keeping those traditions alive through her new book and venture. I’m so excited to have her food at intimate gatherings and parties with friends, I just upped my dinner game!
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?
I launched the Fancy Peasant this past summer. I had the concept in my head for some time, but when my father passed in July, I found myself cooking through the grief and my business plans expedited naturally. Currently, the Fancy Peasant is a destination where I share all of my family’s recipes, as well as personal stories near and dear to both me and to many of the amazing women in my life. We recently started hosting cooking lessons, and catering intimate dinners and cocktail parties, as well. My hope is to create an all encompassing space where mamas, kids, and families can find joy in cooking and in nourishing their bodies with delicious Greek food.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AND WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL INSPIRATION?
I always loved cooking. I was never formally trained, but grew up in my yayas garden and was ALWAYS surrounded by incredible women who cooked the most delicious and healthy food you have ever had. All my fondest memories are built upon family gatherings and “peasant foods” that come from my father’s small mountain village in Northern Greece called Vavouri. Piping hot pites, beans, healing mountain teas, a variety of wild greens, vegetables and fruits along with a little bit of fresh fish and meat and a whole lot of Greek EVOO were the staples.
I wanted to give my children the same rich experience I had growing up around food so I started gardening and cooking with them from the moment they were born. We would cook all these incredible Greek recipes together and I started documenting it through Instagram Stories. Suddenly, I had countless requests for all my recipes, including questions like, How the heck do you get your kids to cook with you? Friends and followers alike said they were sick of screen-shotting all my posts and so Fancy Peasant was born. I had spoken to my father about creating a Greek cookbook where visual learners like myself wouldn’t feel intimidated about cooking Greek but never quite got around to it. In July when my beloved father passed away, I decided it was finally the right time to document and photograph all the families recipes. I basically stayed in the entire summer cooking, recipe testing and gathering the bones for the cookbook. I also began sharing publicly about cooking through my grief. On my way to writing this cookbook, we started getting requests to cook intimate dinners, meze platters for events and to host cooking parties. Fancy Peasant is all about unfussy foods, unfussy vibes and connecting with people through food and gathering.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD?
We are in the middle of a much needed food renaissance. My father lived off the land growing up in Greece, and processed food was just NOT a thing. Sadly, nowadays it’s nearly impossible to eat like that. The food we are making at Fancy Peasant is part of my identity and it’s as close to the “peasant diet” as you can get. It’s not diet obsessive; it’s not fad-based; it’s about creating a balanced diet that we believe enriches your life. The ingredients are simple, accessible and incredibly flavorful. Your guests and family will not be disappointed. My hope is that this food makes you feel as healthy and happy as can be.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL GIVES YOU LONGEVITY IN THIS BIG CITY WITH SO MANY OPTIONS?
We customize a menu that works in harmony with our client to create a delicious, healthy, and visually beautiful meal spanning from meze to dessert. Our dishes keep you feeling fueled, and stimulate all the senses. It’s an experience. In Greece, it’s super common for friends to gather for hours over ouzo mezethes (an array of small dishes), sharing a number of these spicy, salty, sensational small plates while washing them down with ample amounts of wine, tsipouro, and ouzo (and gazing into the Aegean). With the Fancy Peasant, you don’t need to travel to Greece; you can have it in your home.
HOW DO YOU POSITIVELY IMPACT YOUR CLIENTELE?
Whether we are teaching you how to cook through our website, video tutorials or cooking parties, you are learning a wonderful skill while nourishing your body. Cooking Greek can have a stigma for being difficult but it isn’t as hard as you may think.
It makes me sad when I hear a friend say, Spanakopita is my absolute favorite dish but I could NEVER make it because it looks so hard! We want to break that mentality, and I believe we do a really great job at explaining how to make the dishes people think are “really complicated” and want to continue doing so. Most importantly, it’s vital to know what you are putting into your body, so whether you are cooking it, or we are we are cooking it for you, you can guarantee a positive result.
HOW DO YOU BENEFIT MAMAS?
I get emails regularly from moms telling me they were too scared to cook with their kids and thinking the task was way too chaotic. After watching me do it they try and of course, with loads of success. Kids equate everything with fun. I tell moms all the time to turn on some music and let your kids get their hands dirty. Rolling dough, tearing salad greens, cracking eggs and mixing are all really fun activities for you and your kiddos. I think providing these easy, nutritious meals for your kids is incredible and mammas thank me all the time.
Our top favorite mama's recipes!
Turkey and Oat Meatballs
Gluten Free Zucchini Pita
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE FEEDBACK A CLIENT HAS GIVEN YOU?
I talk a lot about how cooking through my grief has helped me survive the most difficult period of my life publicly. It’s not always easy, but I find I am being of service to my followers and they are to me. Food is triggering. Many widows and people who have lost parents, siblings and children have shared with me that they find mealtime or grocery shopping to be one of the most debilitating aspects of their loss. About a month back I posted a soup recipe that was my dad’s favorite. I think I cried the entire time I was making it.
I had a young woman reach out to me explaining that she loved cooking as much as I did, but since her mother died over a year ago she was unable to cook, paralyzed by grief.
Upon seeing the video, she got the courage to make her mother’s favorite meal that night and has slowly been cooking again for herself. I get a lot of messages like this and they fill me up with so much strength.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SECRET NYC SPOT?
Milos on W 55th St.
Dr Shareen Idris for lasers: I had major melasma from both my pregnancies and she brought my skin back to life.
PAY IT FORWARD AND NAME SOME TOP COLLEAGUES IN YOUR FIELD
Maria Seremetis Events: She has done a number of events for us the past two years and just has the most exquisite taste. Elegant, original, and simply a pleasure to work with. We are doing our first event together this December and I am absolutely thrilled. I adore her entire team and trust them implicitly. She’s one of those people who makes you feel really good about yourself even under the most stressful situations. My dad died a few weeks before my son’s 4th birthday and I could not have gotten through planning this with anyone else. I was out for the count and she planned the most gorgeous, thoughtful day that I will never forget. I hope Fancy Peasant collaborations with her a lot!
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE ANYONE'S EVER GIVEN YOU?
A life lived in fear is a life half lived. Do the THING. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
AS MOMS, THE DAY CAN ESCAPE US, WHAT IS YOUR BEST TIME-SAVING TRICK?
Fall in love with taking care of yourself. I am an actor by trade and when I added Fancy Peasant to the line-up, my self-care went to s*&t. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with work or my family if I didn’t start taking care of myself. “Me” time is very important for busy moms. Even if it’s only 15 to 20 minutes daily, you must make time for yourself. You can relax in a bubble bath, take a yoga class, or go to lunch with your best friend and laugh A LOT. Whatever you do, make it all about you. Moms on the go are always taking care of everyone around them — it’s also important that you take care of yourself.