Crazy Feta. That spicy-but-sweet-but-savory creamy dip that has CAVA fanatics all fired up. But how did it all start? And what makes it so… crazy?
It all started in the earliest days of CAVA back in 2006, when the first CAVA was about to open in a sleepy strip mall in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
A few days before the restaurant opened, Chef Dimitri – who founded CAVA with his childhood friends and fellow first-generation Greek-Americans Ted and Ike – was working to finalize the dips the restaurant would offer.
“One of my favorite traditional Greek dishes is called Tirokafteri, which is made of Greek yogurt, feta, and peppers. I knew I wanted a dish like it on our menu.”
After some experimentation, Chef Dimitri figured out the winning recipe. The dish he came up with was as simple as it was flavor-packed. It included just four ingredients, hand-picked for quality and flavor: fresh jalapeños, red onions, rich Greek olive oil, and feta. And the secret ingredient? That’s fire.
When the olive oil, heated up on a skillet, meets the fresh jalapeños and onions —that’s when the magic happens.
“Everything steeps and marries and the spicy notes start coming out. The onions start letting some of that sweet out into this really pungent and beautiful olive oil from Greece. It’s actually from Kalamata, which is 45 minutes from where my dad grew up, and where I spent most of my summers as a kid.”
But the dip — or more precisely, its name — wasn’t an instant hit (even Washingtonian mentioned it in this vintage review.)
“When we put it on our menu, our guests didn’t really know what to think of it. It wasn’t getting ordered – so we started giving it away for free. But once guests had it, they kept coming back for it.”
Crazy Feta has come a long way: from being delivered free of charge to curious guests at our first location to the shelves of Whole Food Markets, Giants, and other specialty grocery stores – and of course, to CAVA bowls and pitas at each of our 77 (and counting) locations all around the country.
Craving Crazy Feta after reading this? So are we. Stop by your local CAVA and make sure you ask for Crazy Feta in the dips + spreads section – or go all in and get a side dip with pita chips. You won’t regret it.