Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
The most hardworking and charming woman of Greek cuisine went through many hardships to reach success, was never buckled by any obstacle and always kept the enthusiasm of a young child for everything.
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
Although she studied journalism and French language and literature, Diane Kochilas became a chef, a cookbook author and presenter of "My Greek Table" with appearances on American television, Amazon Prime and Cosmote History. She knows how to be loved by the audience with the ease with which she cooks.
How were your childhood years and why did you get involved in cooking?
I was born in the US, so I am a genuine New Yorker from a Greek-American mother with Ikarian and Kalabrian roots and an Ikarian father. I got into cooking through my pen, having studied journalism and reaching the age of 29, I decided to write my first cookbook, “The Food & Wine of Greece”!
What you do requires culinary and communication talent. Which do you think you had as a gift and which one did you cultivate?
I believe that "charisma" reads as hard work and effort!
What is the qualification that led you to success, let alone in a place with so much competition?
Since I was a young child, I’ve always had a strong “want”. Not as a selfishness that reads as "I want that to be mine", but about the goals of life. I do not give up and I don’t let negative thoughts stop me. I believe that when there is a will, there is a way.
What are the 3 biggest difficulties you have faced in your life, what lessons did they teach you and how did you deal with them?
I really don’t know how to answer this question, because it’s a completely personal matter. Perhaps a great challenge (not a difficulty) was when I moved to Greece permanently in 1991 and had to deal with such a different culture (socially and professionally), compared to the one that I had experienced in the US until then. However, I am a positive and grateful person and I adapted nicely. Greece has given me many things.
What are the biggest life challenges in New York and what are the city’s best aspects?
It is definitely a tough city, with glances at human misery that are very powerful. The great number of homeless people is the most striking example. It is a city with many extreme things and many contradictions; humane when you don’t expect it and inhuman at the same time. I'm glad I ended up as a person in New York because it teaches you to be receptive and to coexist peacefully with all the races of the world.
How did you manage the publicity? Which parts of it please you and which ones bother you?
I am pleased that people actually recognise a job I have always done with dedication and love. Fortunately, I live my life normally and I neither feel that I have reached, nor would I want to reach, a level of publicity that would impede my freedom. I hold strong Ikarian values and roots and that means you don’t take yourself so seriously. You have humor and humility and you say thank you to God or to the universe every day!
Family and professional career for a woman: are sacrifices needed or is balance possible?
The more you do, the more you can do. I always worked at home so I was close to my children, but I was also lucky as their father was always close and present when I had to travel. His parents were also a great support. When my children were younger, before they went to school, I used to take them with me.
According to what criteria you choose your partners and what is the secret for the duration of such relationships over time?
Respect, trust, clarity and clear roles are all very important in any relationship.
Now about you and Greece; your relationship, your feelings, what do you miss and what bothers you in our country?
Greece has given me a lot. Professionally Greece is definitely different to America. On the one hand it’s more chaotic but on the other hand more humane. Regarding the professional philosophy that exists in Greece, long-term planning is definitely missing! Long-term planning can offer a lot to a country and we must realise immediately that we must do so.
What is it that you are consciously struggling to evolve or change over the years?
On a personal level…I would say to live in the present and accept people without judging them. And that requires daily practice!