Ex-Greek Banker’s Kalimera Food Truck-Cum-Restaurant Wakes Up British Taste Buds
Droves of men wearing designer costumes – businessmen, bankers, high-ranking officials – line up outside a Greek food truck, known as Kalimera (meaning “Good morning”) at Paddington, to make a break from their tight schedules for a bite to eat. Most of these well-traveled men of finance have tasted the best that the world has to offer, however they can’t get enough of Kalimera’s menu that keeps getting topped up in an effort to capture seasonal flavors in an inventive, but authentic, way.
No sooner does the Greek food truck open its panels, that hungry office workers line up for a taste of Tilemahos Argyriou’s cuisine. In the past, the 40-year-old food truck owner worked as a banker at City, however, his career took a swerve two years ago. Initially, he was motivated by two factors: a turn in the financial markets in 2008, and his love of gastronomy. So, he embarked upon his Kalimera project, aimed at promoting Greek cuisine and showcasing its huge advantages. “In London, there are currently 1,000 Italian restaurants,” he says. “Couldn’t there be just as many Greek options?”
The quality of the food offered by his food truck, totally overturns the notion that fast food need necessarily be low in taste, nutritional value, and dubious. “Someone can offer street food with less operational costs, and just have a food tent,” he points out. “Personally, my goal was for long-term profits, so that there is the possibility of development.”
After a great deal of work, and developing trust with the public, the first Kalimera restaurant opened at Camden Markets. Aphrodite Krassa, designer, came up with the logo: “Extra virgin Greek food”. She chose the colors to break through the blue-white clichés often associated with Greece. Yellow was chosen to allude to the warmth, sun, neoclassical buildings and brightness of Greece. Chef Christos Kardaras used all his talent and experience to come up with a choice menu that keeps evolving.
“When I worked at City, at lunchtime I would order food to eat in front of the computer. Tastes were nothing special,” he said. “Why not create something modern but inspired by Greek gastronomy that someone can still eat 2-3 times a week?” he thought.