Easter has felt especially resonant to Thomas Soukakos since the restaurateur lost his wife, Carol, ten years ago. "From that point on, it was a spiritual connection," he says, explaining why he now chooses to strictly observe Greek Orthodox Lent, a seven-week period during which it's forbidden to eat meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs.
But a fast poses special challenges for a chef. As Soukakos of Vios Cafe and Marketplace readily admits, it's impossible to ascertain whether a dish meets quality standards without sampling it.
"I can't try anything we're making," Soukakos says.
During Lent, Soukakos calls upon kitchen staffers to act as his taste buds, dictating when a dish needs more salt or another spritz of lemon juice.
"It's a way of really trusting everybody," he says. "Emotionally it's a really good feeling for me. I'm not responsible, they're responsible. It really feels good."
Because of the holiday's personal significance, Soukakos has always observed it with relatives and close friends. This year, though, he's decided to make the celebration public: He's hosting a traditional lunch on Greek Orthodox Easter (April 15). The menu, which draws broadly from the Greek culinary canon, includes spinach pies, spit-roasted lamb and mayiritsa, a lamb's intestine soup that's usually served after midnight Mass.
"After going on abstinence for seven weeks, the table is full of food," Soukakos says of the feast. "I look forward to it every year."
The $35 meal will be served from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Reservations are required.