Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Interview with Katerina 'Kat' Nitsou, the author of the "Macedonia: Recipes from the Balkans" cookbook

Interview with Katerina 'Kat' Nitsou Macedonian Human Rights Movement International President, Bill Nicholov, had the pleasure of interviewing proud Macedonian chef, and the face of MHRMI's donation campaign, Kat Nitsou, following the release of her widely-acclaimed Macedonian cookbook.

Congratulations on publishing your "Macedonia: Recipes from the Balkans" cookbook! Macedonians everywhere are very excited about it. Describe what it has been like preparing and finally releasing it.

Firstly, thank you! After so many years of working on this book it is a very exciting time for us to be able to share it with the public. When we began to write this book, we didn't anticipate the path and effort that goes into creating a body of work such as this, but now that it is finished, we are very excited with the way it turned out. Each recipe was written and tested numerous times to ensure continuity. We then began to photograph each dish, many times over to ensure we captured the perfect picture. Oliver shot about 31,000 pictures to arrive at 105 final pictures, one for each recipes, then we embarked on the graphic design with an amazing LA based graphic designer and embarked on printing to order. We are thrilled with the outcome of the book and humbled by the incredible support that we have received from food and cookbook enthusiasts.

MHRMI is extra proud since you've been the face of our donation campaign for over a decade! How important is it for you to display pride in your Macedonian heritage?

I think that the efforts that MHRMI put forth are very important and a great achievement toward making a difference for Macedonians globally. I'm very proud of my Macedonian heritage. It was one of the core reasons in deciding to write a Macedonian cookbook. My love of food has taught me that the best way to embrace any culture is through its food and although my book is very much for the Macedonian people, it is also for the world to learn about Macedonian cuisine and hopefully invite them to learn more about the culture and heritage. It was important to me to showcase Macedonian food in an elegant and sophisticated way and I think we achieved that with this book.

Speaking of, and this has become a trademark of MHRMI interviews, what village are you from? :) Did this influence which recipes you decided to include?

My father is from Rulia and my mother is from Breznitsa. My upbringing and memories of food definitely influenced my recipes of the book. So many of our family members and close family friends had their specialties like bourek, kifli or tavche gravche. When I was writing the recipes, I aspired to make each recipe the best it could be, and oftentimes referenced the memories of the food I grew up eating.

Not that I read Vogue, I swear :)...but Macedonia was recently announced by Vogue magazine as the "Centre of the Slow Food Movement”. It's about time! As a Macedonian chef, I was excited, I mean, how excited were you about this?

This is very exciting and a step in the right direction for Macedonian cuisine and culture in regards to its global recognition. It takes our food to an international level and introduces it to a population that may not be so familiar with our cuisine and that is very exciting! Slow Food USA has supported and endorsed our cookbook on their social media and it's something we are really proud of being recognized by.

Your cookbook is a great example of promoting Macedonian culture and gaining publicity for Macedonia and Macedonians. Thank you for this. How much feedback have you received from Macedonians worldwide? Do you have a message for them and for aspiring chefs?

The feedback and appreciation of the book has been overwhelming. From Australia, to the US, UK, and Canada people have been ordering the book, emailing and sharing their excitement and feedback on the recipes they have cooked thus far. I'm so grateful that people are enjoying the book. The support hasn't only been from Macedonians either but many non-Macedonians as well. I really believe that anyone who is passionate about something should stay true to what they believe in, and persevere in their endeavors, even when faced with roadblocks or challenges.