Anhtoula "Ann" Nikolouzos has never cooked for just one person. Working for her brother, Paul, at Joe's Mediterranean Grill in Somers Point, Nikolouzos happily spends her time cooking for family - her Greek relatives and her customers.
Born in a small village on the island of Kos, Nikolouzos never had time to learn to cook. Once she learned the art of hairdressing, she was too busy working.
When she came to the New York in 1972, she had to cook for her new husband. For the first few weeks, she made steak, fish, pork chops and salads.
Her husband soon admitted he was tired of eating the same things.
In tears, the young bride called her mother in Ocean City. "Mom, my husband doesn't like my food," says Nikolouzos.
What husband Spiros was really saying, was he missed the dishes he remembered eating at home in Greece.
By telephone Nikolouzos' mother Kokona, told her to go buy ground meat, spaghetti and sauce. Then instructed her on how to combine it to make a dish called pastichio, similar to the more famous Greek moussaka.
Every day Nikolouzos taught herself how to make something different. Her husband was left to wonder how she figured out all those dishes so quickly.
"I asked other people for recipes because I don't trust the (cook)books," says Nikolouzos. Since each cook has a different way of making the same thing, Nikolouzos quickly understood she could adapt and change recipes to fit her own taste along with that of her husband.
"I learned from myself, in the kitchen all the time," says Nikolouzos. "I love to cook."
Nikolouzos makes everything from scratch, even her own bread.
"Every holiday I cook for 30 or 40 people at my house," says Nikolouzos. Greek and Italian families are similar in their desire to cook and eat together.
Of course, the holiday menu is composed of all the Greek classics. For Easter, Nikolouzos makes a whole lamb and bakes Easter breads. Other occasions require pastichio, moussaka, baklava, a spinach pie called spanakopita, and all the traditional Greek cookies.
While many of the dishes on the menu at Joe's have an Italian inflection, many of the Greek dishes have been refined by Nikolouzos constant reworking of those original recipes.
When Nikolouzos first moved to Somers Point, she was a little disappointed the town had no skyscrapers like New York City. Nikolouzos said it reminded her too much of a village, the kind she had left back home.
Things are different now. Nikolouzos is happy here.
In fact, she says she loves it. Besides, she has her family all around her - husband, son, brother, sister, nieces.
"I'm the only one who cooks Greek food for them," says Nikolouzos.
Contact Michael Huber:
Joe's Mediterranean Grill
Where: 131 Jordan Road, Somers Point
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily