INTERVIEWS | DAPHNIS AND CHLOE

Daphins and Chloe

Meet Evangelia of Daphnis and Chloe a culinary brand rooted deep in culture and tradition of Greece.
With nostalgic memories of flavors, growing up Evangelia was inspired to share the incredible ingredients the unique Greek terrain offers. Whilst sourcing and supporting small traditional farms and farmers bringing their flavours all the way to our kitchens.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?

Sure! I was born in a small town of Central Greece, and I lived there until the age of 17 when I moved to Italy to study. Our dad has always been a mountain guy: as kids, my brother and I would spend the summers in a little house in the woods, climbing cliffs in flip-flops and swimming in the river instead of the sea. I didn’t realise how this upbringing has defined me, until decades later. I left Greece still a teenager, and I lived my entire adult life in Italy. Then a few months before turning 30 I decided to move back to Greece and start Daphnis and Chloe.

What made you start Daphnis and Chloe?

We launched the brand in 2013, in what was a historically bad moment for Greek economy. Businesses were collapsing & anyone with career aspirations was fleeing the country. I came back because in herbs, I saw an underrated opportunity: we have all this natural richness, a terroir with clear competitive advantages. What was missing, was a system to transform natural ingredients of great culinary value into exportable products. Out of passion (and naiveness) I jumped into the epic endeavour of creating the system that allows Daphnis and Chloe to source and export local, hand processed herbs and spices. It took lots of persistence - and luck - but here we are!

When did you fall in love with spices, herbs & teas? Was it something that your grandparents & parents passed on to you?

Seven years ago I couldn’t answer this question, but now I know: it’s the smell of oregano from my childhood, the mountains where I spent the happiest of my early days.

Greek produce is having a moment on the global stage - why do you think that is & how do you think are young business & minds contributing to this?

Many parts of Greece have a remarkable local culinary identity - Crete, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades… But this identity is a rural one. It’s poorly documented and in most cases, the ingredients coming out of these places, are not export-ready either because there’s no infrastructure, or because the quantities are too small to satisfy the needs of the international market. One of the few good things that came out of the crisis, is that people started searching for value inwards. On one hand, we have small brands creating systems (like we do) and on the other, people are supporting small, value driven makers more than ever in history.

Can you tell us a bit about Greece, its landscape & people

Greece is many worlds in one. You have Athens, where half the population lives and then you have a myriad of situations… Yes, there's ancient ruins and white stone-houses. But there’s also untouched mountains, glorious waterfalls and beautiful trails, goats that feed on herbs and make the most delicious cheese… People are people, but the landscape - I’m deeply in love with it!

The art of brewing tea and drinking it has cultural relevance for many nations. Greece wouldn't be one of them that pops to mind immediately.
How do Greeks drink tea? How should we be drinking Daphnis and Chloe teas?

Brewing tea doesn’t have the cultural relevance it has for the British or the Japanese, however, consuming herbal teas has been part of our culture for centuries. It is unthinkable for a Greek kitchen to not have Mountain Tea in it. Dittany Tea has a legendary status in Crete, while in every island, the locals harvest Sage for the house. The main difference is that in Greece, herbal teas are prepped frugally and liberally. Some hot, bubbling water in a skillet, some loose leaf herbs, a small plate to cover the skillet while brewing (usually 5mins), a strainer - and that’s it.

What is a dish that you enjoy making and adding D&C herbs to?

It’s "great tomato" season for our family garden, so right now I'm making monumental greek salads. I cannot even imagine enjoying a tomato salad without oregano! Any type of oregano, I change depending on the secondary ingredients.

What is a dish that reminds you of childhood?

My grandma’s deep fried eggplants with a halved tomato from the garden on the side.

Talk to us about what it means to be creative?

Well, I think that creativity has many faces - in order to define it we first have to contextualise it. On a personal level, creativity means to be inventive and resourceful.

Talk to us about what it means to run your own business?

I’ll be frank: building a business from scratch is hard! It takes courage and in several occasions - personal sacrifice. At the same time, there’s no bigger joy than witnessing others appreciate what you’ve created.

Talk to us about what it means to run your own business?

I’ll be frank: building a business from scratch is hard! It takes courage and in several occasions - personal sacrifice. At the same time, there’s no bigger joy than witnessing others appreciate what you’ve created.

Talk to us about what hard work means to you?

The long hours are one thing. Being consistent in the long term is another. Sustainable entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to make things happen, so the goal isn't to “work hard”, but to work well. To do a “good job”, one has to put in a piece of oneself. That’s why your job should make you happy: because otherwise you won’t have the energy required to do it well.

Scent and taste are closely linked. What are your favourite scents & why?

Yes that’s right - our nose plays an important role in how we perceive flavour. I love the abstract, herbal scent of the greek countryside coming through the window. And the orange blossom scent that floods certain streets of Athens in late Spring. I think these two are special to me, because they’re linked to good memories - our first office was located on a street full of bitter orange trees!

If you could take us on a trip to Greece, where would you take us and why?

I think I’d take you on a road trip across the Peloponnese, it has all that one needs to live a happy life! Good food, fertile groves, amazing beaches, breezy cliffs and nice little towns. Leonidio, Areopoli and Kardamyli would be some of our stops.

If you could come to London, where would you like us to take you and why?

Well, I feel that one of the most interesting things about London are the people - the small thriving businesses who manage to carve space for their products and redefine entire categories. I’d like you to meet businesses like yours!

In The Kitchen

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