On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," chef Mary Cuclis joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Kriti Kitchen. The Pondicheri veteran opened the family-friendly Greek restaurant in January.
The conversation begins with Cuclis explaining how she entered the world of professional cooking. Prior to opening Kriti Kitchen, she trained at Bo Innovation, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong, and spent 10 years working for James Beard Award finalist Anita Jaisinghani at Pondicheri, the acclaimed, Indian-inspired restaurant in Upper Kirby.
At Kriti Kitchen, she honors her Greek heritage by serving dishes she's experienced when visiting family in Greece. Sandler asks her about the ways in which her cooking is different from Houston's other Greek restaurants.
"A lot of the Greek food I found in Houston was very delicious but very much street food. The kind of food I'm wanting to portray is more homestyle, things that I eat with my relatives," she says.
"For example, when you go to a taverna in Crete, a lot of times it's a couple running the whole thing. They invite you back into the kitchen to smell the stew. It's stewed meat and a lot of fresh vegetables with beans and lentils. I don't think too many people see that side of Greek food. I wanted to share a little bit of what I see with my family and what we eat when we're there."
Listen to the full interview to hear Cuclis explain why Kriti Kitchen offers both dine-in options during the day as well as heat-and-serve options that customers can pick up for dinner. She also discusses her goals for the future.
Prior to the interview, Sandler and co-host Rebecca Masson, chef-owner of Fluff Bake Bar, discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Nobie's owners Martin and Sara Stayer's plans to open a new pizzeria; Roswell's Saloon opening in Montrose; New York City's Lady M establishing a permanent presence in the Galleria; and Masson's experiences during Austin's Hot Luck food festival.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Sandler and Masson share their thoughts about meals at two new Italian restaurants. First, they recount the highs and lows of a meal at Triola's Kitchen. Then, they share first impressions of Bari Ristorante, a new restaurant in River Oaks District that serves classic Italian dishes.
Subscribe to "What's Eric Eating" on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. Listen to it Saturdays at 2 pm on ESPN 97.5.