Nick and Christian are two best mates, one a Greek Australian from Melbourne who lived his teenage years in Greece, and the other an Aussie country boy from NSW who was born in Hong Kong.
Both are currently competing on the 13th season of My Kitchen Rules (MKR), where the tight duo brings a mix of Greek/Mediterranean and modern Australian flavour to the dinner table.
Meeting more than 12 years ago at uni, when Nick was coming off a rough breakup, Christian, who was a year above, took him under his wing. From that point on, the two became inseparable.
It certainly helps that they share a love for food and hospitality.
Neos Kosmos spoke with the guys about their life experiences and time on the show.Nick, a venue manager at a pub, and Christian, a restaurant supervisor, wanted to try something different from the usual daily grind.
“We wanted to be on the show to use our experience on this platform, to do something different, get out of our comfort zone,” said Nick.
“It was the sort of the first real risk either of us had taken in over a decade. We’ve spent so long working for other people and everything like that.
We had that moment of you know what? Let’s do something for us.
Let’s prove to ourselves that we can go out and do this,” Christian added.
Living Greek, both authentic and in similitude
Nick is your typical Greek Aussie. His family come from Messenia, and when he was younger, his mum owned a diner on Bourke Street in the centre of Melbourne’s CBD. Here, the seeds were planted for what he was to become one day.
“I learned a lot of my cooking from mum, and that old-school Greek idea of philoxenia (hospitality) is something that I try to do in my everyday life,” he said.
He also lived in Greece, mainly Athens, in his teenage years, from 13 to 18, which he says were “some of the best experiences of my life”.Had the kitchen not been his calling, the stage may have been, as he also was in a handful of Greek plays in the Melbourne Greek community.
Christian, comes from country NSW and is not of Greek heritage, but that didn’t stop him from growing up with some similarities to Greek families.”We’re a huge Aussie family; it’s one of those things we joke that we should have been born Greek,” he said.
“You come over to our place for Christmas, and there’s 30 of us sitting around the table, all yelling over the top of each other and just mountains of food in the middle.”With him now in a different state to most of his family, Nick’s family has become one for Christian – spending Greek Easter with them, making a barbecue out of spare bricks.
Nick’s family have affectionately named him their “Skippy the bush kangarootha”.
It wasn’t too much of a culture shock for him; as we know, his family was large, like many Greek ones.
Their favourite and signature dishes
Nick’s favourite home-cooked dish, especially at his mum’s, is pork fricassee, and his go-to when cooking is kotopoulo me patates, classic Greek lemon-roasted chicken with potatoes.
For Christian, it’s roasted pork belly with potatoes, fried red cabbage, or any other side.
Both love to cook octopus and calamari, and it is one of Christian’s favourite Greek-Mediterranean style food.
When making Greek avgolemono, or egg-and-lemon soup, he maintains the old Greek superstition passed down from his grandmother: air-kiss the soup so it won’t curdle.
An experience like no other doing what they love.
Nick and Christian love what they do, especially for the smile their food cuts across people’s faces.
MKR provided them a place to do this alongside 10 other contestants cut from the same cloth (it’s just this cloth is used for an apron).
“I think it was one of the most incredible experiences we’ve had in general,” said Christian.
“The relationships we made along the way with the other contestants we forged together by this beast that is the competition.
“You’ve got 12 people who don’t really know each other at the start of this journey sitting down at a table, and we’ve all got strong opinions on food.”
Like both men would have lived through over family dinners, be it the Greek or the Aussie family, MKR was just that – a “big family dinner” that’s bound to have drama, disagreements, clashes and the whole lot.
My Kitchen Rules airs Mondays — Wednesdays at 7.30pm on Channel 7 and 7plus.
For more check out Nick and Christian on Instagram at @nickandchristian_mkr
They also plan to relaunch their TikTok, @justslapit, which became popular during COVID lockdowns, with videos gathering almost a million views.