Algirdas Janilionis

Algirdas Janilionis

Welcome to a website dedicated to Chef Algirdas Janilionis. The New York chef originally comes from the town of Kaunas in Lithuania. Algirdas Janilionis wanted to start this website to share more information on his hometown and provide his opinion on everything from some of the best places to eat in New York City to his latest insights into other passions such as basketball, technology, techno music, and fishing.

Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas notes that Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania. The town is known for its vibrant economic, academic, and cultural life, so it’s an excellent place for a chef to grow up. There are a lot of different events held in the area throughout the year where food is the star of the show. Before the conclusion of World War 2, Algirdas Janilionis notes that Kaunas had a tumultuous history. The area had to endure Nazi occupation, soviet occupation and was even taken over by the Russian Empire. During the French invasion of Russia, Napoleon’s Grand Army traveled through Kaunas twice, and the city suffered significant losses both times.

Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas notes that the people from his hometown are known for their resiliency in a land that withstood centuries of warfare. When World War II concluded, Kaunas became known as the main industrial city of Lithuania. It wasn’t until 1990 that Lithuania claimed its independence. One thing Algirdas Janilionis remembers the entire country rallying around was the hometown basketball team of Zalgiris, which originates in 1944 and has gone on to represent Lithuania in the modern-day Euroleague basketball association. In addition to its rich history, Algirdas Janilionis notes that Kaunas is known for its beauty. On a cold New York day, Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas is often reminiscing about his homeland’s different parks, groves, gardens, and nature reserves.

While Algirdas Janilionis has always been more interested in food, tourists often visit Kaunas to take in the architecture and museums. There’s a rich history, so buildings like the Town Hall in Kaunas are famous for hosting different festivals back in medieval times. Some of the famous museums of Kaunas include:

  • The War Museum of Vytautas the Great
  • The M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, commemorating the work of the early 20th century avant-garde artist M. K. Čiurlionis
  • The Devils Museum, which features artwork of the Devil from around the Globe
  • The Lithuanian Aviation Museum
  • The Literature Museum
  • The Sugihara House Museum

Now, Algirdas Janilionis notes that all of the sightseeing in the area will surely lead a person to work up quite an appetite. Many of the dishes he loves from Kaunas are served at the restaurant he works in today. Below are some dishes that have become just as popular at his New York restaurant as they are in Kaunas.

Cepelinai – The easiest way to describe Cepelinai is a Lithuanian potato dumpling. This heavy dish is known for warming Kaunas residents on a cold winter night. Grated raw potatoes are stuffed with either meat or cottage cheese and then boiled in salted water. Cepelinai is often served with a heaping portion of sour cream for dipping like the Polish pierogi. This is comfort food at its finest.

Saltibarsciai – If cepelinai is synonymous with being served in the winter, Saltibarscia is the dish most associated with the summer months. Algirdas Janilionis notes that this is a traditional Lithuanian soup that is served cold and made of buttermilk, beetroot, cucumbers, green onion, and dill. It’s not uncommon to see locals enjoying this soup with a scoop of sour cream atop it.

Zrazy – This is a popular dinner dish in Kaunas, according to chef Algirdas Janilionis. It’s a meat roulade that is often found in Belarus and Poland as well. The chef prepares this meal with very thin slices of seasoned beef that are then stuffed with potatoes, root vegetables, eggs, and mushrooms. While traditionally prepared with beef, chefs have tweaked the recipe to make it with chicken, veal, and pork. Once stuffed, these are fried briefly and then simmer over time in a simple stock made up of spices, celery, and onions.

Considering the history of the town and the country as a whole, it’s not surprising that there’s an emphasis on creating dishes that will keep a person well-fed for hours at a time. There’s not a lot of emphasis on snacking in the area. Each meal is designed to provide a person a full stomach to go about their day.

Algirdas Janilionis hoped you enjoyed learning more about his hometown of Kaunas. As previously alluded, future blog posts will tackle everything from the techno music he enjoys listening to while he’s not in the kitchen to the history of the Lithuanian basketball team. Be sure to visit often for the latest insights from Chef Algirdas Janilionis.