Irini Tzortzoglou is a Cretan chef, food author, olive oil & honey sommelier and culinary professor who splits her time between Greece and the UK. After flying through the competition in 2019 on the cusp of the pandemic, Tzortzoglou didn’t let it derail her success, going on to publish her Mediterranean cookbook Under the Olive Tree, opened her cook away culinary school in Crete, and has hosted and judged a plethora of prestigious culinary competitions across the UK and Europe.

Always committed to bringing quality and authenticity to her predominantly Greek dishes, Irini is highly skilled in introducing Greek flavours to other cuisines as well as spinning traditional taverna style dishes into Michelin-style show-stoppers. With huge emphasis on quality ingredients and an uncompromising approach to perfect presentation, Tzortzoglou infuses each dish with the importance of unity and togetherness that made her fall in love with cooking as a child.


Today Irini is bringing us a taverna classic through the lens of 21st century technology and let’s face it, health consciousness. Whilst Greek food is a world-wide favourite due to its celebration of fresh produce and farm-to-table attitude, it’s also always done with lashings of the best extra virgin olive oil. Irini is showing us how to pair some of those decadent favourites like her fiery Tyrokafteri with a healthier approach to Kolokythokeftedes (A traditional courgette, feta and fresh mint fritter). A must-have on any Greek Mezze board worth its salt, Irini shows her classic infusion of Eastern flavours into Greek classics by rolling her Kolokythokeftedes before air frying them with just a brush of EVOO. High in flavour, low in fat and kind to your bank balance: what more could you ask for? Oh that’s right – Tyrokafteri. Irini shows how this dreamy dish can be thrown together in under a minute with just a bowl and a fork. Irini is committed to showing that cooking doesn’t have to be an exclusive realm, approach it with boldness, passion and a can-do-attitude and anything is possible.





Prep Time

Cook Time


2 Bowls, Fork, Air Fryer, Coarse Grater, Muslin, Colander/Sieve, Utensils


For the Tyrokafteri

200g greek feta
1 finely chopped flame roasted unpickled pepper (from a jar is fine)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (ideally from Greece – no bias here)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 fresh chilli, deseeded, sliced and finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes adjust for taste)
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves


For the Tyrokafteri

1. Place the feta and Greek yoghurt in a bowl and crumble together with a fork until the mixture is homogenous.

2. Note that this dish will not look like a processed dip like tzatziki – it will be drier and more textured.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and serve with a few chilli flakes and the fresh oregano leaves – simple!

For the Kolokythokeftedes

1. Coarsely grate the whole courgettes/zucchini, place them in a colander and rub with some salt – this will help to release the high liquid content in the vegetable.

2. Leave for 15 minutes and squeeze all the liquid out. If you have a cheese cloth or piece of muslin here, this will be super effective in removing the highest quantity of water possible to ensure a crisp finish when air fried.

3. Transfer the grated and strained courgette to a medium-large sized bowl. Add the crumbled feta, both flours, the chopped herbs, beaten eggs, ground cumin and season with the salt and pepper. Please remember that seasoning should happen at several stages in the culinary process – not just as a garnish.

4. Mix to fully incorporate all of the ingredients until it resembles a stiff, homogenous mixture – there should be no liquid at this stage. If there is some water separation, this means your courgettes were not strained sufficiently.

5. Take tablespoon sized samples of the mixture and make balls by rolling them and flattening them slightly.As mentioned previously, If the mix is sticky, add a little more flour – be cautious not to dry your fritters out at this stage, you do not want them to be bready and dense.

6. Drop the fritters into the panko crumbs to coat and shape again in your hands until you have circular disks around 2cm tall.

7. Preheat your air fryer to 180 C. Place in atop the frying plate, generously spray with the extra virgin olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Using a spatula flip the fritters over to cook the underside, spray again and cook for a further 7-8 minutes until golden.

8. Serve the fritters accompanied by some tyrokafteri or tzatziki, arranging them around the dip on a plate with the dip as the centrepiece.

For more advice on elevating your presentation, check out our article on how to Plate like a MasterChef Champion.