The Kal­imera food truck bright­ens up lunchtime for Lon­don’s of­fice work­ers

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VASSILIKI CHRYSOSTOMIDOU

It’s 11.30 a.m. and a light driz­zle is fall­ing in Lon­don’s Padding­ton dis­trict. The Kal­imera food truck, named after the Greek word for “good morn­ing,” has just opened and a line is al­ready form­ing of smartly dressed busi­ness­men, bankers and ex­ec­u­tives. Some have been at the of­fice since 6 a.m. fol­low­ing the ac­tion on in­ter­na­tional mar­kets so it’s no won­der they’re hun­gry. This is the crowd that food truck owner Tele­maque Ar­gyriou had been aim­ing for from the start.

A for­mer banker in Lon­don’s City dis­trict him­self, 40-year-old Ar­gyriou made a ca­reer U-turn two years ago: “The cli­mate on the mar­kets was good at first, but the en­tire banking world changed after the events of 2008,” he says of the melt­down that started in the US that year. “In the mean­time, be- cause I have spent many years abroad – 23 years in France and the UK – and be­cause I love food, I launched the Kal­imera project. The aim was to show­case Greek cui­sine in a serious way and how much po­ten­tial it holds. It com­bines tra­di­tion and the fu­ture, and this is how we need to im­print it in peo­ple’s minds. Lon­don has around 1,000 Ital­ian restau­rants right now. Couldn’t it have as many Greek ones?”

Ar­gyriou took all the right steps right at the start of the project to make sure that it was never de­scribed in the terms nor­mally used for street food, like greasy or slap­dash.

“It’s much cheaper to serve street food,” says Ar­gyriou. “I aimed for mi­dand long-term prof­its so there would be room to grow. Proof of the project’s suc­cess is that we have in­au­gu­rated the first Kal­imera restau­rant, at Cam­den Mar­ket.” Ar­gyriou sought help from ex­perts when he started out. De- signer Afroditi Krassa was re­spon­si­ble for the brand name and came up with the logo “Ex­tra Vir­gin Greek Food.”

in Lon­don’s City dis­trict, Kal­imera food truck owner Tele­maque Ar­gyriou made a ca­reer U-turn two years ago: ‘The cli­mate on the mar­kets was good at first, but the en­tire banking world changed after the events of 2008.’

“We spent a lot of time look­ing for the right color,” says the restau­ra­teur. “Greece is not just the blue-and-white cliche. We chose yel­low, which evoked warmth, the shin­ing sun and the coun­try’s beau­ti­ful neo­clas­si­cal man­sions.”

The kitchen, mean­while, was put into the ca­pa­ble hands of chef Chris­tos Kar­daras, and on a typ­i­cal day the menu in­cludes so­phis­ti­cated dishes such as de­con­structed mous­saka, salad boxes and three types of sou­vlaki: chicken with av­o­cado tzatziki sauce, let­tuce and spicy hu­mus; lamb with mint tzatziki sauce and egg­plant puree; and grilled hal­loumi cheese with pesto yo­gurt and cherry toma­toes. What in­spired th­ese dishes? “Back when I worked in the City I would buy lunch ev­ery day and eat it in front of my com­puter. The fla­vors were re­ally noth­ing spe­cial. I thought, why not make some­thing mod­ern but in­spired by Greek gas­tron­omy, which some­one can each two or three times a week? Some­thing that will not just stave off their hunger, but will also in- tro­duce the el­e­ment of plea­sure,” he says. Is there a dish that sim­ply didn’t work? “Yes, pastit­sio didn’t seem to do any­thing for the British.”

While Ar­gyriou is ex­cited about Kal­imera’s prospects, he was not al­ways en­cour­aged by his friends and fam­ily to give up what many saw as a promis­ing ca­reer in fi­nance.

“That’s the kind of men­tal­ity that I be­lieve ex­plains why so many peo­ple are in a rut right now,” says Ar­gyriou. “When cri­sis strikes, you need to be able to turn things around 180 de­grees and also to point out the way to oth­ers. Can’t find work in your sec­tor? Then find a sec­tor where there are jobs. Do some­thing else. But make sure you do it well.”

What did it take to launch the busi­ness in terms of red tape?

“Half and hour on the In­ter­net and 15 pounds. Maybe the Greek state has some­thing to learn here.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.