Celebrity chef Maria Loi cooks on the morning show of Greece’s MEGA channel and hosts a new cooking show called It’s All Greek with Maria Loi. She held cooking demonstrations this week as a special guest of the Ottawa Greek Festival.

What’s the greatest virtue of traditional Greek cooking?
First of all, they have great ingredients because of the sand, the soil. Greek olive oil is the best in the whole world because it’s native over there. The olive tree, it was in Athens, it was in Crete, thousands and thousands of years ago. Maybe it seems prejudiced to say all these things because I’m Greek, but it’s true.

How did you end up here at Greekfest?
I love Canada, and so whenever they call me here, I grab it up immediately. Yes, I will come over there to help make the cooking shows, not only on TV, but we’re going to make the cooking lessons every day here.

What do you love about Canada?
I think you have something clean, like the environment. When you look in the eyes of the Canadians, I can see that they have nothing to hide ... I love them, I don’t know why.

What are you going to cook up for us here?
Many, many things. Because we’re influenced now by the Cretan diet, we’re going to make authentic foods from Crete. You have to come and see.

Can you give me an example?
I will you give you an easy example. I can give you the karidopita. It’s a walnut cake that everybody loves.

Before you became a chef, you worked in PR and had Texaco as a client. What would you have done if BP had been your client this spring?
Well, it would have been very tough, believe me. Actually that’s why I left all these huge companies that I was with.

When did you know you wanted to get out of that business and into the kitchen?
Food is my passion. Always I had it, since I was seven years old and I used to cook for my family.