Stylist cooks food to dye for Two talents: Hair colorist learned late in life that making meals can be easy

Kitchen Encounters

Kitchen Encounters

June 12, 1996|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

When his parents moved back to Greece to retire 24 years ago, Tom Mavrellos realized he couldn't eat in restaurants for the rest of his life.

Mavrellos, whose family had immigrated from Athens when he was 17, was cutting hair in a local beauty salon at the time. "I was complaining at the shop about not being able to cook," he explains, "And finally a girl I worked with said, 'Can you read? Then you can cook.' "

She wrote down a simple recipe for him: Take a can of mushroom soup, empty it in a saucepan and fill the can with wine. Heat the two and pour over grilled chicken.

Since then Mavrellos, who has become one of Baltimore's best-known hair colorists and owner of the Towson salon Tomm's, has expanded his repertoire considerably -- so much so that he's the one who cooks for his wife and two children.

Along the way he's also owned a couple of beauty shops, opened and later sold the Chios Bar (what he calls "Fells Point's first hippie bar"), published a Greek newspaper for three or four years and been active in Baltimore's Greek-American community.

When asked if his recipe for grilled fish with lemon vinaigrette is Greek, Mavrellos says, "It is and it isn't." It involves staples of Greek cooking like lemon, oregano and olive oil; but he developed the recipe himself. You can use the sauce with almost any whole fish; he suggests red snapper or wild rockfish.

Grilled fish with lemon vinaigrette

2 pounds whole fish such as red snapper or rockfish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

olive oil for brushing

fresh dill and lemon slices

With a very sharp knife slit the fish on both sides, brush well with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs.

Heat grill well and brush with oil before placing fish on it. Cook well on down side before attempting to turn fish over. If fish sticks, it's not ready to be turned. Do not close grill.

Place grilled fish on a long plate and pour vinaigrette on top. Decorate with fresh dill and lemon slices.

Lemon vinaigrette

1 cup very fine virgin olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon Retsina wine (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

3/4 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients; set aside until fish is grilled.

Do you know any great cooks? Let us know. Write Kitchen Encounters, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Or fax to (410) 783-2519.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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