Boston-area chef Brendan Pelley is a 2016 Best of Boston winner. He won for best Greek restaurant which was a pop up in the South End that he calls Pelekasis. It was with dishes such as his wild boar meat balls with chilli spiked honey and grape leaves stuffed with foie gras and golden raisins that brought him the recognition that he deserved. Not to mention his amazingly delicious whole fish dishes. It's a pleasure to welcome Brendan Pelley to Henry in the Hub and to our WGBH studios.
Henry Santoro: Brendan thank you so much for coming in.
Brendan Pelley: Thanks for having me, Henry.
HS: It's always my pleasure. You know that. If my memory serves me well you created Pelekasis as soon as you and your wife returned from a trip to Greece. What was it about the food that got your creative juices flowing as they did?
BP: Well, I grew up eating Greek flavors. I'm part Greek so my pappou who would have, you know, slow roasted lamb on Sundays. My mom got a lot of those Greek recipes handed down to her. So I grew up eating you know her spanakopita at holidays. The idea of Pelekasis was in the works for a few years. When I finally did get to Greece. So once I was actually there it just it nailed it home or the floodgate at just the olives the olive oil the citrus the fresh fish it's beautiful and light. It was awesome.
HS: And the name Pelekasis is your real family name is that correct?
BP: That's right. Yes. So my grandfather was. He changed his last name. He was actually in the radio business in the 50s. So he changed his last name from Pelekasis to Pelley. So, it was a little bit more radio friendly, I think. And his brother, in fact kept the last name Pelekasis. So some of my family is Pelekasis, some of us are Pelley now.
HS: And how did Hell's Kitchen come along?
BP: Sure. Hell's Kitchen was just an opportunity that popped up when I was running Zebra's Bistro in Medfield and someone asked me if I was interested in trying out for it. So I thought, “What the heck? Why not?”
HS: Do you participate in the WGBH Food and Wine Festival?
BP: You know I've been doing the the WGBH Food and Wine Festival since the first year. It's probably my favorite Food and Wine Festival. And I say that because the people that come to the festival, I actually see in the restaurant soon thereafter. So it's personal it's you know I get to meet a lot of really great people. The people that come really they get the food and they get really excited about it.
HS: Well you know you also are serving the food in the house the Julia Child built.
BP: I mean this I know what an honor really is.
HS: I mean I like and I like in this building that you and I are sitting in right now to the James Beard building in New York. I mean this is hallowed ground
BP: It is hallowed ground.
HS: I mean Julia Child when you walk through the halls you can feel the creativity, you can feel her presence everywhere around us…
BP: And her portrait in the green room!
HS: Exactly! You know. Any idea what you're bringing this year?
BP: I do know what I'm bringing So I'll be serving in the VIP lounge and I'll be bringing fois gras dolmades with golden raisins and pine nuts, as well as a wild cherry gastrique.
HS: Wow. Well Brendan, thank you so much for coming in and being on Henry in the Hub today. We will see you at the WGBH Food and Wine Festival. And I think putting you in the VIP room is the right way to go.
BP: I'm really excited to be there. Thanks for having me.