Cooking with Chef Sophia Manatakis

Cooking with Chef Sophia Manatakis


We just completed our first ever live streaming Facebook Cooking show with Chef Sophia Manatakis. For those of you who were not able to watch Chef Sophia is a classically trained French Chef from New Jersey.  Sophia is Greek Orthodox Christian.  She was also a recent contest (and very closer runner-up) on the Food Network show Chopped. Many of you might have also seen or heard her on Series XM Wake Up with Taylor and the National Herald.

She showed us how to prepare a traditional Pascha meal. As she says in the video this is so you can be prepared for Pascha planning!  She kindly passed the finished dish on to a neighbor to enjoy.  This dish is not Lenten we know that.  Sophia wants to share her talent of cooking with our community.

Sophia is currently running her own catering business and working at her family owned Greek Restaurant in New York City called Uncle Nick’s . Her Italian and Greek culture has always been the background of her cooking. Growing up she kept a deep connection to her Orthodox Faith and attended St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Parochial School in Queens, New York. Celebrating her Faith and Love with food were her earliest memories of cooking.

During her live streamed cooking show Chef Sophia showed us all how to prepare the delicious and traditional Greek dish Lamb Kokkinisto, with toasted olive orzo. It looked so good I know many of us will be using it as our main Pascha Celebration meal! We wanted to make sure you all had the recipe. 


For the Lamb

Two Large Lamb Shanks or 4 Small

28 0z Crushed Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

28 0z Beef Broth

1 cup Red Wine

4 Large Carrots

4 Stalks of Celery

2 Large red Onions

1 clove garlic

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme

1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint

1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley

1 Bay Leaf


For the Orzo

1 box Orzo

1/2 cup Pitted olives

1/4 cup lemon juice and Zest

1/2 cup olive oil

4 cups Beef Broth

1/4 Grated Kefalograviera or Feta Cheese

2 Tablespoons of Parsley

2 Tablespoons of Fresh Mint

2 Tablespoons of Fresh Dill

2 Tablespoons of Dried Oregano



  1. Rinse the lamb in cold water, pat dry with a paper towel, then coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch oven pot over medium high heat. Add the lamb to the pot. Brown the lamb on all sides (approx 1-2 mins per side).
  3. After the lamb is browned on all sides, transfer the lamb to a plate and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce and preheat the oven. Note: You may turn the stove off at this point, but do not throw out the oil nor clean the pan yet.
  4. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (or if you prefer to use a crockpot, start preheating your crockpot).
  5. Dice the onion, carrot, and garlic. In the same pan that was used for the lamb, cook the onion, carrot, and garlic  on medium heat until soft (approximately 5 minutes). Then add the red wine, tomatoes, cinnamon, bay leaves, thyme, mint and salt to the pot. Stir. Reduce the heat to low to simmer for 5 more minutes.
  6. Submerge the lamb in the pot with the tomato sauce, cover with a lid and cook slowly in your oven or crockpot until lamb reaches a safe temperature (145-medium rare, 160-medium, 170-well done). Oven time at 300 degrees is approximately 2 and 1/2 hours.
  7. Combine olive oil,lemon juice,lemon zest,parsley,dill,mint and chopped Kalamata olives in a bowl and set aside.
  8. Toast the orzo on medium high heat in olive oil until dark golden brown about 5 minutes.
  9. Add 4 cups beef broth and water as needed to cook orzo.
  10. When done,remove from heat and add olive and herb mixture to the orzo.Finish off with 1/4 cup Greek cheese kefalograviera or feta.


Be sure to check out Uncle Nick’s Restaurant! If you want to learn more about Chef Sophia’s catering business please email


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About author

Sophia Manatakis

Growing up in her family’s Greek restaurant Uncle Nick’s, paved the way of her dream to be a chef. Sophia Manatakis Graduated from the French Culinary Institute in 2012.Taking the opportunity to be a sous chef in the Mentor Young Chef competition ignited her self confidence to start cooking on her own. Sophia realized making short term career goals in the cooking world was the key to being happy. Along the way, she finally started her own cooking company which provides meals for people trying to meet fitness goals. Sophia appeared on Food Networks chopped in 2017. Since being on chopped, doors have opened and Sophia is getting noticed in the culinary world. The Orthodox Christian Network recognized her with the 30 Under 30 entrepreneurship award for Culinary Arts at 24 years old. Today, you can still find Sophia going after each dream. In fact, the most recent accomplishment was a grant, given by the Mentor BKB company, where she chose to further her education in Italy.