Noema in Huntington Reimagines Greek Cuisine
Chef Nicholas Poulmentis has come a long way from peeling potatoes in his uncle’s restaurant in Greece.
As the executive corporate chef at Noema in Huntington, Poulmentis, an award-winning and highly accomplished chef, says he aims to “put Greek food on the map once again, only in a different way.”
At 47, Poulmentis has nearly 30 years of cooking experience and is an extremely passionate chef who says he “lives and breathes the culinary arts,” adding that “Greek cuisine has so much to give.”
Poulmentis’ passion for Greek cuisine can be traced back to his childhood growing up on the small Greek Island of Kythira. “At age 5, I started cooking in the kitchen, combining foods I found, like ham and cheese,” he recalls, adding that his own father was also an “amazing cook,” who used only fresh ingredients grown in the garden or caught in the sea.
“I got deeper and deeper into cooking and my dad said I should go to cooking school,” Poulmentis, who attended Greece’s top culinary arts school, explains.
After culinary school, Poulmentis honed his skills working across Europe in Italy and France, with a stop at the legendary Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris before coming to the U.S. in 2013.
Despite struggling at first, Poulmentis quickly found his bearings with major career highlights including cooking for then-President Obama at the White House in 2013 and 2015.
He also did executive chef stints at Marathi Greek Bistro and Theo’s Oyster Bar, both in Manhattan.
After cooking at the White House, Poulmentis was invited to compete on the Food Network’s Chopped show, which he ended up winning in 2018. In addition, he also competed in the Chopped tournament in 2019 and was also a contestant on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay in 2020 and TBS’s Rat in the Kitchen.
As a veteran of the cooking show wars, Poulmentis recalls that Chopped was a very difficult show to win.
“You have no time. The most difficult aspects of cooking shows are not knowing the ingredients…you start around 5 a.m. and you don’t know where the ingredients are on the set…the layout is unknown. Everything is difficult.”
But he says that the shows are good platforms for chefs, drama, and the like. He also says the shows are very good promotional vehicles for chefs.
Asked about his philosophy on cooking, Poulmentis says it’s simple: “I never stop thinking about my recipes,” says the chef who also holds the official title of Ambassador of Greek gastronomy bestowed upon him by the group Greek Taste Beyond Borders.
“I strive to provide a diet that can feed both people’s bodies and their soul,” he says, pointing out that he’s made his career by marrying recipes from across Greece combining the best of the “depths of the sea with the land.”
“This,” he says, “is what sets me apart…I’m not the typical Greek chef who is going to just serve branzino, spinach pie, and lamb chops,” he explains, adding that he uses subtle differences in Greek cuisines in all his dishes. “Everybody loves my creations.”
Many of those creations are highlighted in his 2021 cookbook, The Novelty of Greek Cuisine.
But the easier way to experience those creations is to make a reservation at Noema in Huntington, which opened in December of last year.
Signature dishes on Poulmentis’ seafood-centric menu include black truffle tarama caviar, a mixture of herring, salmon and truffle powder, shrimp loukoumades, tiger shrimp tempura over sesame seaweed, Maryland blue crab, salmon, grilled tuna, and cod.
Also featured is filet mignon, organic chicken, a raw bar with branzino ceviche, and tuna tartar. Made-from-scratch desserts include baklava, chocolate souffle cake, and a deconstructed key lime pie.
Poulmentis credits Noema’s operating team of Lisa DiPinto and Giancarlo Ferranti for reaching out and sharing the vision of serving “reimagined” Greek cuisine.
“Lisa called me last year and asked me to join Noema,” Poulmentis recalls. “Lisa’s vision for a different Greek cuisine is what drew me to Noema. I have free rein to do things differently. I have autonomy,” he says, adding that some owners like to dictate how certain dishes are cooked.
He adds, “Noema is a real family-oriented business…and everyone is very transparent here… it’s not just business, but true hospitality.”
Pointing out that other chefs don’t have the same “love” or “passion” that he gives to his food, Poulmentis shares that “If I’m not in my kitchen, then I don’t trust anybody with it.”
On the horizon for Noema is yet another location in Garden City, slated to open this June.
And, for Poulmentis, he’s far from finished with network cooking shows.
“I have a forthcoming project on Netflix that’s coming soon,” he says. While unable to elaborate, he adds that it will “showcase my Greek cooking skills.”
Noema is located at 7 Gerard St., Huntington. It can be reached at 631-829-7777 or noemany.com.
Chef Nicholas Poulmentis will participate in the Taste the Greats event on March 2.