About Chef Loi
Maria Loi’s warmth and huge smile are your first welcome. Her table’s colorful bounty is fresh, festive, healthful and reminiscent of her days growing up along the seaside in Greece. The dining space echoes with laughter, comfort and delightful conversations; this is where memories are made. Everyone seated at the Loi table feels like a special friend, carefully chosen to share this life. With Loi, modern knowledge and ancient lore are carefully blended to create a new brand of “soul” food—dining that is as good for your soul as it is for your body.
When Maria Loi chooses ingredients and creates recipes, she considers the ancient grains and flavors that continue to flourish millennia later. This is an area of expertise; her book on ancient Greek dining was the only official cookbook of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. These ingredients, as respected as the great Greek minds of Plato, Socrates and Hippocrates, are the pillars of a healthy, tasty Mediterranean diet: olive oil, Greek yogurt, grains, beans and freshly picked greens. Maria Loi’s food is about truth in flavor. Hers is a philosophy derived from the warm, scented Greek air and the sounds of loved ones around the table.
Maria Loi’s mischievous grin, sparkling eyes, and culinary prowess have made her a food superstar; she is a popular television chef in Greece and the author of more than 36 cookbooks, and over 150 magazine editions. She owns an exquisite gourmet restaurant in idyllic Nafpaktos and has a line of Maria Loi dinnerware and kitchen appliances. The Chef’s Club of Greece, a worldwide culinary organization has recognized her as the Global Ambassador of Greek Gastronomy; in June of 2016, she was unanimously re-elected for a second term as the official Ambassador.
Maria now shares her expertise and knowledge with American audiences. She quickly earned a reputation as the U.S. leader in authentic Greek cuisine and ingredients: In March 2012, Maria was invited to cook for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and 250 honored guests at the White House.
Chef Loi brought her unique approach to Greek cuisine to Loi Estiatorio, her flagship restaurant in the heart of Manhattan, an ode to the flavors of Greece (opened February 2015). In 2016, Chef Loi was the inaugural chef of The Ritz-Carlton Central Park South’s Kitchen-Takeover series; she was a panelist at the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable Conference in LA, with professors from Harvard University and other decision-makers in the food industry. She was a judge at the inaugural Ernesto Illy Coffee Awards at the UN, and traveled to Australia as a featured chef for OMG Week, a weeklong festival in Melbourne curated by Chef George Calombaris, with the top Greek chefs from around the world.
In 2017, Chef Loi judged the Rapid Fire Challenge at the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show in New York (and reprised her role as a judge in 2018 and 2019); She was the featured guest chef for a Dinner and Discussion Symposium at Harvard University on the subject of her book, The Greek Diet, and was named the president of the jury at the ‘World Best Healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contest’ in Malaga, Spain; additionally Chef Loi was a judge at the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show: Front Burner Pitch Competition.
In 2018, Chef Loi was a judge for the sofi™ Awards, which name the top new specialty food products on the marker. She was a keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual World Happiness Summit in Miami among the leaders across multiple fields, speaking about the connection between sustainable happiness, food, and nutrition in her talk titled ‘Purpose in Action’.
Chef Loi was one of four chefs selected by the European Union delegation of the United Nations to represent their countries at the first Taste of Europe NYC event at Eataly; she traveled to Taranto, Italy with Harvard University to present their collective findings on the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet to the University of Bari School of Medicine at a conference on the Apulian Lifestyle. Chef Loi also traveled to Indianapolis with Harvard University to continue her work on the real-life applications of the Greek/Mediterranean Diet with the active firefighters of the Indianapolis Fire Department.
In 2019, Chef Loi was a keynote speaker again at the World Happiness Summit, and then had an elite pop-up restaurant event on Fisher Island in Miami; as she expanded her eponymous product lines, Chef Loi’s Loi Ladi received the coveted sofi™ Award for Best New Product in the Olive Oil category from the Specialty Food Association.
In August 2019, Chef Loi was one of three celebrity chef judges at the Marriott International’s regional ‘Master of the Craft’ culinary competition. In September 2019 she was a keynote speaker at the prestigious Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University giving a talk on ‘The Chef’s Prescription: One Healthy Greek Bite at a Time’. Chef Loi was a premiere judge at the 2019 Ernesto Illy Coffee Awards in October, as well as host for the inaugural Loukoumi Foundation's First Annual Celebrity Chef 'Mediterranean Tasting Event' and gave a Guest Lecture at New York University on Ancient Dining in November. And, in 2018, 2019, and now for 2020, Chef Loi has been named one of the Top Women in Food Service& Hospitality, by Total Food ServiceMagazine.
In January 2020, Chef Loi was named one of the top Women Makers by Whole Foods Market, as one of the best female owned and operated brands/suppliers with whom Whole Foods Market works.
Since the onset of the coronavirus global pandemic, Chef Loi has worked tirelessly to feed the frontline healthcare workers at hospitals around New York City, as well as the homeless and elderly; she partnered with other good Samaritans to expand her capabilities in order to provide as many healthy, nutritious, substantive meals for anyone who needs them.
In August 2020, Chef Loi was a key presenter at the Menus of Change Leadership Summit, a huge event for chefs, culinary industry professionals, and a broad cross section of academics presented by the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard University's TH Chan School of Public Health. This conference focusing on the Plant-Forward Kitchen is slated to be the basis and guidance for the next decade in consumer culinary trends and food evolution through 2030.
Chef Loi is deeply involved in causes that care for children in need. She is a founder of Elpida (the Greek word meaning “hope”), a foundation to support children with cancer, and oversees a fund that grants university scholarships to underprivileged students. Chef Loi also works closely with The Center for Discovery and their Department of Nourishment Arts as a DaVinci Master Chef, as well as with C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Programs), and City Meals on Wheels. Her biggest Philanthropic partnership is with the Loukoumi Foundation. In 2015, Chef Loi received the prestigious Women’s Award from the Women Together Foundation at the United Nations, honoring her for the philanthropic accomplishments over the years, focusing on her time since moving to the United States. In 2016, Chef Loi received the Leadership Award from Save Latin America Inc. for her work empowering women across multiple fields; Chef Loi was also inducted into the New York Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, the pre-eminent globalwomen’s organization in the areas of food, wine, and hospitality.
Ultimately, her mission in life is simple, subscribing to THE Loi motto – tasty, healthy, easy – Chef Loi wants to change the world - one healthy, Greek bite at a time.