Meet My Exceptionally Zealous Friend

April 03, 2019

Meet My Exceptionally Zealous Friend

This week kicks off our one-year anniversary at Zēlos and I thought it was time to properly introduce you to my long-time friend and collaborator, Pauline Manos.  She is probably the most important gift that Zēlos brought into my life and for which I am so thankful.  Ironically, Pauline is not an avid cook (more on that below!) but she’s definitely brought her magic touch to this gourmet Greek adventure.  

When I first started talking to Pauline about my idea for this authentically Greek online marketplace, I knew instantly that I wanted her to join me and that together we would make an unbeatable duo. But I wasn't sure if she would accept, as I knew she had other clients and a start-up needs a lot of time and dedication. Luckily for me, she said yes and for the last year she and I have worked closely together to lift Zēlos off the ground.

Besides guiding me on the marketing front with all our website and social media content, Pauline has been my dose of sanity, helping me channel my most abstract and crazy ideas into a focused, disciplined project. She has been my sounding board, my voice of reason, my moral support in the inevitable ups and downs of a start-up business. We’ve spent endless hours talking on the phone, chatting online, exchanging emails, but we’ve also been lucky to have some precious time face-to-face in Thessaloniki. 

Maria Kalomenidou and Pauline Manos

I first met Pauline over twenty years ago when I was living and working in Brussels, Belgium.  A Greek-American raised in Southern California, she had just moved there from Italy to work with her husband at P&G, where my own husband worked, and we all quickly became friends.  As a cherry on the cake, Pauline’s husband comes from my hometown of Thessaloniki and is of Black Sea Greek origin and a foodie, just like me, so I guess it was inevitable that we would all have a lot in common.

Life took us all to many different parts of the world, yet we always kept in touch, meeting up in Thessaloniki or Chios over holidays, even in Cincinnati, where Pauline would often come for her P&G marketing work.  In a funny twist of fate, two of our sons ended up as roommates in London this past year, where they attend the same university, many years after they first met in elementary school in Brussels.  And even further back, Pauline's father-in-law used to buy trahaná for his grocery store from the Martavaltzoglou family, who are now our Artisans at Agrozimi.  It's a small world indeed!

Ironically, Pauline is not an avid cook or foodie herself, although she seems to have surrounded herself with them, as she says.  I tell her she under-estimates herself, as I know that, even though her husband loves to cook and prepares most of their meals, she’s the one that makes the traditional Greek lamb dinners for the holidays.  Pauline really is a gift to have and in retrospect, I don’t know what I would have done without her. This gourmet Greek adventure would never have been the same without her and her zealous touch. Happy first anniversary to us both!!  

Baked Fish with Sea Fennel

Pauline says she doesn't like to cook but she does add her own zealous touch to her husband’s dishes, like introducing Tragano Greek Organics Sea Fennel to his baked fish plakí.  This is a delicious and easy fish dinner for anyone fasting ahead of Easter or looking for a nice, one-dish meal - give it a try!



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