“Tenacious Greek aims to spread the Greek food experience to the world,” says Zoe Cotsis, the owner of Tenacious Greek, a company that specializes in the gourmet ready meal market in Greece.
With a passion for Greece’s culinary culture at a young age, Zoe grew up in professional kitchens, due to her father’s business activities in the hospitality and catering sectors.
“As I was growing up, it dawned on me that the kitchen was always the very heart of the business, and a hotbed of emotion. If anything was to go right, it was happening there,” Zoe tells GTP Headlines.
Launched in 2017, Tenacious Greek produces and packages premium meals, designed to relieve hotels and restaurants from operational costs and food waste.
“We act as and serve as a remote, fully operational kitchen of a hotel or a restaurant,” Zoe says, adding that all meals are made from fresh, locally sourced produce and PDO ingredients to showcase Greece’s culinary culture and regions. Nothing is pre-made in Tenacious Greek’s meals. Everything is fresh and ready to serve in a matter of minutes.
Tenacious Greek offers a complete menu and includes meals that cover any and every food preference. These meals have found their way in the country’s popular dining tourist areas as well as in regions where daily supply of goods can be challenging.
“Guests from all over the world are tasting the Tenacious Greek’s recipes, forming excellent opinions on regional food culture… This offers the country priceless publicity,” Zoe says.
In this interview, Zoe introduces Tenacious Greek and gives details on the company’s meals and what the company can offer to a professional kitchen.
- GTP: Zoe, please tell our readers a bit about yourself and how you became involved in the food business.
Zoe Cotsis: I was born in Athens in 1977. I earned my Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Indianapolis, following which I immediately left for Luxembourg to work for the European institutions. Although working in a multicultural environment with hugely skilled people provided me with a very rewarding experience, my dream was always to invest in the Greek culinary culture. Because of my father, who was an entrepreneur in the hospitality and catering sectors, I grew up in professional kitchens. The smells, the noises, the speed all those cooks dealt with daily, the transformation of ingredients! And of course, the shouting, the “accidents”, the meltdowns, the occasional tears, the constant problem solving and crisis management. It was all there! As I was growing up, it dawned on me that the kitchen was always the very heart of the business, and a hotbed of emotion. If anything was to go right, it was happening there. If anything was to go wrong, yep, there as well. There was always a fine line between success and failure, and the stakes were high. I loved it.
- GTP: Please “introduce” Tenacious Greek to us and tell us what inspired you for its creation? Did you see something missing from the Greek hospitality market that you wanted to offer?
Zoe Cotsis: Tenacious Greek is the only company in Greece that produces and packages premium meals, designed to relieve hotels and restaurants from extra staff, operational costs and food waste, while always and without fail delivering excellent, gourmet cuisine.
We act as and serve as a remote, fully operational kitchen of a hotel or a restaurant. The inspiration of TG came to us knowing the issues that hotels and restaurants face when it comes to acquiring staff in the hope that they won’t leave in the middle of the season, to hold a stable and high quality production, to address the problem of provisioning, especially in remote locations, the high costs of space and professional equipments, and the constant problem of food going to waste in the event of a “slow day”. We wanted to make sure that everybody, no matter where, could serve excellent quality Greek Cuisine to their loyal customers and keep them happy.
- GTP: Gastronomy is among Greece’s strongest tourism products. Do you find that it is promoted enough abroad?
Zoe Cotsis: I was on an airplane once, flying home from Zurich. Skimming through the in-flight magazine, I was hit by a commercial which, if I can remember correctly, went by the headline “This piece of moussaka can change the country’s GDP”. Below it, the picture of a delicious-looking piece of moussaka. Needless to say, it stuck with me over the years, although I was working in a completely different domain at the time.
Greece has an amazing, celebrated food culture, one that lures millions of tourists to different parts of the country year after year. We do know that the cuisine of the destination is an aspect of utmost importance in the quality of the holiday experience. It is significant, for example, that the Mediterranean diet of Greece was included in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2010. And this piece of moussaka I coincidentally read about all those years ago, has indeed offered tremendous revenues to the tourism industry. If promoted the way it deserves to be, it can do even better and vastly grow our image as a top and authentic gastronomic destination.
- GTP: How is Tenacious Greek different from other companies?
Zoe Cotsis: We use fresh, locally sourced produce and PDO ingredients to showcase our amazing culinary culture and Greek regions. Most of our recipes are slow cooked, using the method of “sous-vide”. There is nothing pre-made in our meals. We boil our broths and produce our sauces from fresh Greek vegetables. Our meals are fresh, ready to serve in a matter of minutes. To fight food waste and remaining “bio”, our dishes have a long expiry date without a single preservative or additive. We use Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology to guarantee the freshness and longevity of our products. Our executive chef is Dimitris Stamoudis, long acquainted with the demands of the hospitality industry.
- GTP: Can you give us more information on the technology Tenacious Greek uses for food preservation?
Zoe Cotsis: Our technology is the latest when it comes to food preservation. When our food enters its tray, oxygen is removed and a protective atmosphere (MAP) is then added while it is sealed. This keeps the food alive and fresh, allowing for no bacteria to grow while it is moved to its destination. This prolongs the product’s shelf life in the most healthy way possible. A true leap in food technology and packaging. A tremendous advantage of this type of packaging is that this protective atmosphere is a very hostile environment for bacteria and viruses to survive, making it by definition an incredibly safe product.
- GTP: What products does Tenacious Greek offer and how can someone find them?
Zoe Cotsis: We offer a complete menu, starting with breakfast and then moving on to starters, salads, main dishes and desserts. Our meals cover any and every food preference, so that vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians will be fully satisfied, and spoil their soft palates to boot. Some require a two minute reheating, others are served cold, as our brilliant taramosalata with ouzo from Mytilene. Orders are made directly to the company, and there are no minimum quantities required. We do not hold stock. We cook according to each and every incoming order.
- GTP: What can Tenacious Greek offer in a professional kitchen? Can a professional ask for something different to suit his needs?
Zoe Cotsis: What we offer to professional kitchens is decongestion, economy, and premium, stable quality no matter their personnel’s expertise or number, space, equipment or location. I have to mention food waste again, as it is a very common plight in the industry. The amount of food going to waste daily is incredible, harming not only the environment but the finances of businesses severely. Our products’ extended expiry date solves this issue, guaranteeing that not one euro goes to waste. Additionally, as I have said, our menu covers most of the delights Greek cuisine has to offer. That said, if someone wants to serve a particular dish that we do not have, we would be delighted to cook it for them.
- GTP: Which areas do you serve geographically?
Zoe Cotsis: Tenacious Greek’s products are already finding their way in the country’s popular dining tourist areas as well as in regions where daily supply of goods can be challenging (remote islands etc), as part of our wholesale activity. We deliver everywhere in Greece and beyond. So far we hadn’t had a destination we couldn’t deliver to, and we have had a lot! Guests from all over the world are tasting the Tenacious Greek’s recipes, forming excellent opinions on regional food culture, creating fond memories of their experience and spreading the word through social media or upon their return home. This offers the country priceless publicity which we expect will be monetised on the following holiday season. It pleases me most when our clients tell us it’s already gold standard as far as taste goes.
- GTP: What are the company’s plans for the future?
Zoe Cotsis: Our next steps include exports and the growth of our own retail network in Greece. More Tenacious Greek shops are on the way, and our first exports deals are already happening, which pleases and excites us immensely. We truly believe that our meals will act as ambassadors of our fantastic culinary culture abroad. Although this has been an exceedingly tough year for all, we have every reason to be optimistic for the future, and indeed we are.