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Astoria Chef Wins $10,000 on Chopped

Host Ted Allen checks in on chef Nicholas Poulmentis (Photo: Courtesy of Food Network)

July 6, 2018 By Tara Law

The executive chef from Astoria restaurant Akrotiri won a face-off with other talented chefs on Food Network show “Chopped.”

Nicholas Poulmentis, the 42-year-old head chef at new Greek restaurant Akrotiri at 29-20 30th Ave, impressed a panel of judges— including Martha Stewart— with his quick thinking and creative food on an episode of “Chopped” that aired Tuesday.

Poulmentis was required to craft three courses using a wide variety of ingredients, including lamb sirloin, nori and porgy.

The ingredient that made Poulmentis the most nervous, he said, was corn dogs crusted with french fries— he’d never even tasted them before, he said.

At Akrotiri, Poulmentis sticks to fare that is both much lighter and closer to Poulmentis’ earlier life on the Greek island of Kythira. One of his specialties is octopus, he said.

“I use ingredients from all over Greece— from the islands, from the mountains,” said Poulmentis.

Akrotiri at 29-20 30th Ave. (Photo: Kathryn Sheldon)

Poulmentis was born in Manhattan to Greek immigrants, but his family returned to Greece soon after he was born.

Poulmentis trained as a chef in Greece and at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and helped to run his family’s hotel on the island.

The experience was the foundation in Poulmentis’ ethos as a chef. He developed a deep knowledge about Greek ingredients, even growing his own tea and making his own olive oil.

A few years after the financial crisis struck Greece, however, Poulmentis decided he needed to find a way to support his family. He moved to Astoria in 2012.

Poulmentis said that restarting his career in New York as a 37-year-old was difficult. His father died shortly after Poulentis moved to the city, but Poulentis was unable to afford the cost of plane tickets to attend his funeral.

In the years since, Poulmentis’ fortunes have been on the rise. He served President Barack Obama dinner at the White House in 2013, and helped to open Akrotiri in Astoria this year.

Now that he has conquered “Chopped,” Poulmentis plans to use the $10,000 prize money to take a trip and visit his father’s grave.

Poulmentis said that he dedicated his “Chopped” win to his father and to the restaurant.

To explain his victory, Poulmentis said, “I had God on my side, and I work hard.”

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21 Comments

Midtowngirl

As an Astorian who loves Greek food I now plan on visiting the restaurant. I did see the episode of Chopped and i am proud an Astorian won. The chef was very good and sincere. I also love Martha Stewart and have learned so much from her. She’s a genious. I don’t understand the negativity of some people who are so negative. Maybe competitors? ?




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Justine Marie Vickers

What a travesty that animal corpses and secretions are still considered worthy of a prize. It’s 2018. #GoVegan




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Selvi Hadzovic

I ate there recently and I live in Astoria.
I could tell the food was cooked with expertise and passion.
A must go-to and I will continue to support after hearing his story.
God Bless




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Ivana

I am from Macedonia. I prefer my country’s food but some Greek food is nice.




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Anonymous

First of all you are from Skopia, not Macedonia. Macedonia is Greek. if you read carefully, the topic is about a Greek chef who works at a Greek restaurant. Your country should create their own history and stop stealing it from others. But then again for some people stealing is easier than creating.

Have a wonderful week.




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Vardaris

The lack of any serious historical and cultural substance, and the lack of dignity, leads some peoples to the theft and appropriation of a higher historical and cultural inherited heritage of other peoples, unwittingly accepting, in this apocalyptic way, their inferior nationality and origin.




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Anonymous

You’d think your country would have more important priorities, like straightening out its economical mess, instead of getting stuck on nonsensical issues like regional names. As for stealing I’m sure the Western European counties that are on the financial hook because of Greece would get a good laugh from that.




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Vardaris

I am from Greece and I love the food from all Greece’s regions, like Crete, Macedonia, Thrace, Peloponnese or the Islands. You should try it sometimes…




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Demis

Gipsy you are from Skopia you are not from Macedonia. If you are educated, which I have doubts for that read the history of Macedonia and then talk.
Until then shut up your mouth!!




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No one

Those chefs at Junko Sushi must make good food first in order to compete….




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Tim

LMAO. The judges will be projectile vomiting after sampling the filth they serve




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Sarah Rosen

Congratulations! Ever since Martha joined I stopped watching the show. Can’t stand her obnoxious voice and ugly face.




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yasss

that is amazing. Something to be celebrated. This spot is always busy and looks wonderful. great job. Plaza was dull and dated.




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talent agent

The chefs from Junko Sushi should compete, I heard they have some free time now




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