Klelia prepares traditional Greek pasta known as chilopitas in the kitchen behind the Epi Gis bakery in Chania, Crete.
As part of the photography workshop on Crete we ran this May, we visited Kleila and Manolis who run Epi Gis, a small business in Chania, dedicated to making traditional food in the time honoured manner. We had access all areas and were able to get 'backstage' and into the kitchen to watch the food being prepared and hone our photo story telling skills while tacking the challenging lighting provided by the strong industrial lights. It was a lot of fun, but it got me really excited for another reason too.
The state of the Greek economy is well known. The situation isn't good of course, but the couple behind Epi Gris are part of a kind of vanguard of bright, innovative young Greeks who are fusing traditional Greek values of hard work, integrity and family with entrepreneurship, and creating a plethora of new small businesses all over the country that are creating jobs and opportunities.
Manolis loads freshly baked spinach pies called Kaltsounia onto the shelves. Everything is made on site from fresh local ingredients. It is this way of doing things, that not only tastes the best, but also keeps tradition alive and is far better for the local economy than buying food from a huge corporation who's profits usually end up off shore.
Customer service is another key to the success of Epi Gis. This is a place where the locals stop in for a chat as well as picking up supplies and it's obvious that Manolis likes it that way. This is how communities are built and are maintained. When we stop knowing the names of our customers, or the people who serve us in the shops, then we loose a large part of what holds society together and makes it feel cohesive. It is also how Greece has always traditionally worked, and thanks to the failure of many of the big corporations after the crash, businesses like Epi Gis are able to carry this forward, hopefully for many years to come.