At Zēlos, we take special pride in our Artisans. You can read about all of them here, but in today’s post we wanted to share our latest conversation with Philippe Poli, the man behind Philippos Hellenic Goods.
It was the sight of a simple yet beautiful oil on the shelf of a gourmet shop in Greece that led Maria to Philippe Poli. The usual internet search and subsequent phone calls and meetings revealed a man raised and educated in Switzerland, but steeped in his Hellenic heritage. After a nearly twenty-year career working in the hustle and bustle of Athens and its port, Piraeus, he turned to olive oil. Why? “When you move ahead in life, your needs evolve and nature becomes more important and necessary, it gives you calm and serenity. I consider olive oil as a Greek treasure and I wanted to promote it and make it known on the international scene.”
Philippe brings a unique touch to this popular mission promoting Greek olive oil. As he puts it, “a Greek palate acknowledges natural good taste; the Swiss expertise demands working with high standards of technology and prompt distribution.” His state-of-the-art facility on the island of Aegina and extremely efficient and professional staff reflect those high standards. Yet his choice of location also highlights the evolving needs he referred to earlier. “Aegina for sure is not a place related to premium olive oil, but I did fall in love with this place many years ago and decided to spend my life here. The most positive factor of Aegina is the location - situated only one hour from Athens, the business center for Greece.” It’s hard to argue with him, as occasionally commuting over the sea of the Saronic Gulf is probably more attractive than sitting in the Athenian traffic…and the view from his office can’t be beat!
We asked Philippe how he felt about Zēlos’ philosophy that food is an act of love and if he had ever experienced food in that way. “I agree. An act of love is to help someone experience sensations as a great satisfaction, happiness; it’s a persistent and intense repetitive need, passion and more. I believe food goes in the same direction.” His own philosophy that he has passed on to his company is the ancient Greek concept of “εΰ ζην”, live well. What exactly does that mean for him? Philippe tells us it’s about “the return to the roots and to purity, a way of life characterized by quality and completeness.”
With his many years of experience in the business world, Philippe had this to say to the young Greek entrepreneurs of today. “They must be passionate, courageous, and, ideally, fairly economically independent. They must have a long-term vision and carefully grow their business step-by-step, taking into account their cash-flow situation, as small business finance is challenging in Greece. And they must create strong human relationships with their suppliers and customers.” Our common desire to help those courageous Greek farmers and entrepreneurs, while still keeping human relationships front and center, have made our collaboration with Philippe Poli such a pleasure.
If Philippe’s love of Aegina ever tempts you to visit, stop by his store to also try the famous Aegina pistachios!
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