Thursday, October 29, 2009

The West Austn: Cooking is all Greek to Basil

The commentator and presenter admits he is a good kitchen supervisor.

The mere mention of Greek food is enough to have Basil Zempilas tripping through memories of his recent wedding on Kastellorizo.

Best known for his work as a sports commentator both in front of the camera and behind the microphone, Zempilas is one of a number of Channel 7 personalities who share their favourite recipes in Telethon's new celebrity cookbook, TV Dinners.

"I chose spanakopita because it's a very traditional Greek dish," Zempilas says.

"It's something I grew up eating probably once a fortnight at home with Mum and Dad.

"It was part of Mum's traditional Greek cooking repertoire, so when it came time for me to choose a recipe that I quite enjoyed I thought, "Well, traditional and Greek, that's the way to go for me'".

For Zempilas, loving the classic Greek pie is one thing. Cooking it is quite another.

"Put it this way, I have supervised cooking it," he says with a laugh.

"I have performed the role of a cooking assistant. I'm not sure that you would actually call me the main cook, but I have certainly been in the area when it's being cooked?

"I must admit my wife spoils me. Amy is a very good cook. Because I finish work quite late most nights, she generally has cooking well and truly under way by the time I get home. So I'm off the hook in that regard. And before Amy it was my Mum, so I've been spoilt all round".

For Zempilas, getting on board for the Telethon project was an easy decision.

"Telethon has been a big part of what we have done for a long time," he says.

"So it's very important to all the people here at Channel 7 in Perth. If there is any opportunity to help support Telethon, we jump at it."

For the uninitiated, spanakopita is a delicious savoury pie comprising layers of filo pastry wrapped around a spinach and feta cheese centre. Cooking skills aside, the dish brings back fond memories for Zempilas.

"I remember going to school and telling the kids we had spinach pie and they'd say, 'That sounds nice'. But they were imagining it would be a meat pie, except with spinach. It was almost impossible for me to explain it to them," he says.

"It also reminds me of countless trips back to Greece, most recently for our wedding in September.

"It reminds me of all the good things about being a little boy growing up here in Perth."

Link to Fresh, Oct 2009