For Mother's Day, we asked local chefs to share a family recipe that they loved making with a maternal figure in their life. Nick Calias, of Rochambeau, Summer Shack, Sonsie, Harvard Gardens, and Game On!, shared this family recipe for baklava.

“Growing up in the restaurant business, I did a lot of cooking and baking when I was young,” he told us. “My mom, Diana Calias, was an amazing baker and amazing cook. She loved making cakes and cookies and brownies. One thing we always had at the house was baklava. It's one of the first things she taught me how to make, and it's one of the first things we cooked together. I make the same recipe to this day.”

Chef Nick Calias' Family Recipe for Baklava


For the baklava:

  • 2 large bags of walnuts, finely crushed
  • 2 pounds phyllo dough
  • 1 pound butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

For the syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup honey


Mix the nuts and spices. Add two ounces of the melted butter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place two sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of a 9x13“ pan. Brush with butter and add another two sheets and brush with more butter.

Spread a quarter of the nut mixture on the phyllo. Repeat the process until all the nuts are gone.

Once the nuts are gone, place two phyllo sheets at a time and butter, it's all is gone.

Sprinkle a little water on the top and score; bake for one hour.

To make the syrup: combine sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add honey, and pour mixture over hot baklava. Allow it to rest for two hours.

A man in a red shirt stands with a women with glasses and a red top.
Chef Nick Calias and his mom.
Courtesy of Nick Calias