For the 13th year of the Gastronomos Quality Awards, the aim was to showcase the “Little Heroes,” the generation of food producers who dared to create during the financial crisis and who succeeded with whatever means they had at their disposal.
These are people in their 30s and 40s, who love nature, overflow with creativity and are among Greece’s best ambassadors thanks to their products.
Due to the pandemic restrictions, the 2020 awards were presented digitally, streamed on Gastronomos’ YouTube channel on December 21.
Alongside the presenters – stand-up comic Lambros Fisfis and actor Dimitris Makalias – two celebrity chefs, Sotiris Kontizas and Lefteris Lazarou also revealed their inner comedians. Below are the winners of the 2020 Gastronomos Quality Awards:
This went to Christos Alefantis, founder and editor-in-chief of street magazine Shedia. Alefantis is also the founder of Shedia Home, a restaurant in downtown Athens that also offers support to vulnerable residents.
Cheese Products Award
The Babounis cheese-making business on the Aegean island of Naxos bagged this award. The family makes exquisite traditional cheese from milk from their own animals. They also led efforts to have the island’s Arseniko cheese included in the European Union’s list of protected designation of origin (PDO) products under the name “Arseniko Naxou.”
Biodiversity Conservation Award
The Lemnos-based company Salamousas Agrifood picked up this award. The owners, brothers Panagiotis and Stergios Salamousas, produce and standardize legumes and cereals from ancient seeds, and have revived a number of local varieties.
This one went to Greek Picks (Ellinika Kaloudia), a traditional grocery store in the Koukaki neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis. The owners, Stamatis and Theodora Tsikniadopoulou, offer a curated selection of organic and traditional products.
Organic Farming Award
Alexia and Renela Giannakopoulou, two sisters from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, walked away with this award. The two forestry graduates cultivate organic herbs for medical and culinary purposes in the village of Monopigado near Thessaloniki. Their herbs are sold under the brand name Inoni Greek Organic Herbs.
Olive Oil Production Award
This was won by Theodoros Koutsotheodoris, an optician who, inspired by his father’s effort to revive the family olive grove in Laconia, quit his job to get into the olive oil business and created OlivePoem, which won Gastronomos’ blind tasting competition.
Alexandros Yiotis Award
Named after the late culinary master and writer, this one went to the Telis Giannena handmade tools workshop owned by Rania Piteni and Vangelis Gogos, who continue the now-rare art of creating handcrafted knives, operating an 87-year-old family business.
Honey Production Award
Vassilis Koutroulakis, who escaped a “suffocating” city life for beekeeping, took this one. As an itinerant beekeeper, he carries his hives all over Greece, following different flowering seasons. The result is several varieties of Korys honey, which came first in Gastronomos’ blind tasting competition.
Evi Voutsina Award
This award, in honor of another noted Greek chef and author, went to Elissavet Koulouri, who started baking after a 14-year career in marketing. A baker with a modern outlook, she has been producing sourdough for four years. You can find her brand, Betty’s Bakery, at select delicatessens, grocery stores, supermarkets and restaurants. Her goods can also be ordered for home delivery.
Wine Production Award
Kostis Dalamaras, who made a name for himself among both consumers and producers at the age of 30, collected this prize. After studying oenology in Burgundy, he took over the family Dalamara Winery, where he produces an exceptional Naoussa-type wine, which balances tradition and innovation.
Chocolate Production Award
This distinction went to Kakau Worship and Aris Flokas, an adventurous chocolate maker who produces exceptional artisanal chocolates from organically grown cacao he purchases directly from producers, following fair trade practices.
Beer Production Award
This one went to three Greek microbreweries that excelled in Gastronomos’ blind tasting: the Noctua Athens Brewery, Strange Brew, a part of the nomadic breweries movement, and the Mykonos Brewing Company.
Coffee Processing & Trading Award
This went to Kross Coffee Roasters, the brainchild of Sotiris and Stavros Mikhail and Katerina Mavromataki, three young entrepreneurs who brought specialty coffee to Hania, Crete. From purchasing to roasting, everything in their shop reflects their dedication to quality.
This article was first published at ekathimerini.com