Meet YiaYia

My name is Tina Kokonas. I’m a first-generation Greek-Canadian living in the wonderful community of Lloydminster, Alberta! I am the wife of a wonderful and creative man named Spiro and we have been married over 50 years. We were an arranged marriage, and I owe our joyous lives to God and our wonderful friends and family who have loved us every step of the way.I was 18 when I moved to Canada and I had 40 days to be married, once my feet touched Canadian soil. I had no idea what life would be like back then, but I am grateful everyday for each opportunity I was given to grow as a wife, mother, business owner, and cook!

Growing up as the youngest child in my home, I didn’t know a lot about being in the kitchen. In fact, I didn’t learn to cook at all. When I came to Canada, I learnt very quickly that there was a lot I had to learn in order to meet the demands of a Greek homemaker. This drove me to learn everything I know today. I remember a lot from my childhood, which inspires me every time I get the chance to cook – but most of what I know is self taught through many years of trial and error. One of my fondest memories is sitting down at the table with my family and hearing my mom say “Yiamas!” before enjoying what little food we had. Translated, this means “to your health!” and that stood out to me, even until today. Yiamas with Yiayia is a reflection on the past, and an heirloom for the future as the legacy of these recipes and memories will continue to live on.

Family is one of my greatest joys and we make a point to spend quality time together whenever we can. Sometimes that means spontaneous girls trips to the city with my daughter, granddaughter, and great granddaughters. Sometimes it’s sitting at a table in the restaurant and having a cup of coffee while we exchange stories and conversation. But my favourite way to spend time with our family is our Monday night suppers. Ever since we closed the restaurant on Mondays (about 20+ years ago), I’ve hosted the family at our home on Monday evenings for a hearty homemade supper. This is a rare commodity because we all mostly live off of grazing the restaurant leftovers or mistakes. We all look forward to Mondays for many different reasons, but for me, it’s when I get to bring my childhood flavours to life. 

Most of the recipes you’ll find at Yiamas with Yiayia have been from our Monday suppers and they have been a big part of our lives for the last 20 years. So consider this my formal invitation to our family suppers, but you get to be the cook! These recipes are easy, straightforward, and are sure to put smiles around the dinner table for years to come. Thank you for your support in this endeavour and I look forward to seeing what you’re cooking!

Thank you for reading!

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