Nikos Ligidakis

Nikos Ligidakis

Each year at the Payson Book Festival there are presentations from a variety of authors in two rooms — the fireside and maple rooms — at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.

At this year’s festival on Saturday, July 20, one of the keynote speakers in the fireside room is author and Greek chef Nikos Ligidakis.

Born and raised in Greece, Ligidakis came to America in 1969 at the age of 24.

His latest book, “The Mediterranean Functional Lifestyle,” is more than a cookbook — it is about food for a lifetime.

“I never thought I would be writing another cookbook; however, this is not just a cookbook,” Ligidakis says. “My goals of developing this book were to provide the reader with information about all ingredients used for my recipes. When I was doing cooking classes or training interns out of culinary schools, my goals had always been to educate potential chefs about the chemistry of foods, encourage them to create their style of cooking and to respect the quality and wholesomeness of the food they serve. In this book, my goals remain the same; learn how to create new tastes, simplify your cooking process, and above all to recognize that the paramount step to every chef’s success is the use of quality ingredients.”

He has received awards for his cooking and charity work. For 21 years, Ligidakis would close his busy restaurant the week before Thanksgiving to prepare and cook food to serve the homeless. In 1995 his efforts won him the Phoenix Humanitarian Award.

One of his books, “The Power of His Brush, The Evolution of R.C. Gorman” is a biography of Native American painter Rudolph Carl Gorman. Born into poverty on the reservation in Chinle, Ariz., R.C. Gorman was not expected to survive. However, under the nurturing of his grandmother and others, he distinguished himself as an artist. The author has uncovered a story of Gorman’s bigger-than-life persona.

Ligidakis has written several other books about individuals. Join him, and 90 other authors, at the Payson Book Festival from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, July 20 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino. For details, visit

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