Today I'd like to introduce Ntina Skoteiniadis, a fellow Greek woman entrepreneur that I met through my Zelos journey. She is the first of a group of women that we want to introduce to our community because supporting women entrepreneurs is a big part of what we believe here at Zelos. Ntina has founded meltémi Yogurt, an artisanal product that is very close to my heart.
I love strained yogurt because my yiayiá (grandmother) used to make it when I was a child. As many of you know, I am of Pontian descent (Pontians are the Greeks from the Black Sea region of Russia, Turkey & the Caucusus) and strained yogurt is a big part of the Pontian diet. You spread it on your bread, or eat it with crumbled barley rusks or even put it in soup! I still remember my yiayiá's cloth yogurt bag hanging over the sink overnight, draining the water from the yogurt. She'd then add salt in the morning to the thick yogurt that was left and we'd have it for breakfast.
When I first tasted Ntina's yogurt, it immediately brought that memory of the taste of my yiayia's yogurt to my mind. If you're a Greek yogurt lover, you just have to try meltémi. You may have seen our post on social media on the gluten-free banana bread we made with it (I'll share that tasty recipe here soon!), and I, of course, tried meltémi with our Cretan honey & walnuts, for a true Greek breakfast. This yogurt is perfect for an authentic tzatziki cucumber and dill dip (a healthy go-to snack or dip that you should always have in your fridge - Sparoza's latest blend makes it easy to get the seasonings right, too).
Ntina has also shared another recipe you can make with her yogurt, an easy elegant desert that her friend Lelene concocted in Paros. Enjoy her interview and a glimpse into her adventures with her start-up as a woman entrepreneur!
What is the story behind your brand?
When I visited Greece as a child, one of the many things I fell in love with was Greek strained yogurt. It was such a bummer not to be able to find any here in the US when we would come back home. The irony is that today there is so much “Greek yogurt” in the US, but most of it is not the healthy, delicious superfood you find in Greece. There is a lot of sugar and crazy flavors and toppings, and most brands do this because the yogurt itself doesn’t taste good in the first place. I thought, what if we go back to basics and make a yogurt with yogurt cultures from Greece, that is actually strained to make it thick and creamy, and uses only premium ingredients? And meltémi was born.
How do you feel about having created something of your own from scratch?
I am very proud of the product we have created. I say “we” because it takes a team of people to bring a product like meltémi to market, and I have the most amazing team of people working with me. Before I did this, I actually never realized everything that went into making a food product and getting it onto supermarket shelves. I have a greater appreciation now and whenever I can, I buy from small companies and producers. Smaller companies and producers see their products as an extension of themselves, so the care and effort that goes into these products is like nothing that is mass produced.
What is your biggest challenge as a woman entrepreneur?
My challenges are the challenges any small business faces: competition from bigger players, getting people to take you seriously, access to capital, etc. Being a woman just makes these things even harder.
What do people think of your brand? Do they like your yogurt?
We’ve been told our brand is unique—I don’t think any other brand of Greek yogurt focuses on its “Greekness” as much as we do. We really wanted people to know that we are authentic Greek yogurt, so instead of using a white cup with a picture of fruit on the front, we used the blues that remind us of the sea and sky in Greece. We have a feature on the website where people can submit comments and honestly, we have only positive feedback so far!!!
What’s your favorite Greek food and why?
After Greek yogurt, pita! Spanakopita, tiropita, all kinds of pita. My mom and my “theies” (aunts) all make great pites. They are the food of my childhood.
Share with us your favorite recipe!
This is recipe is incredibly easy but also refreshing and delicious. My friend, Lalene, who is an amazing hostess, made this for us at her home in Paros.
I love it because 1) you can serve it in individual glasses, like champagne coupes, for an elegant dessert, or in a big glass bowl, for a casual gathering and 2) it reminds me of a wonderful evening by the sea.
1 32oz plain meltémi Greek yogurt (0% or 5% milkfat)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
The zest and juice of 2 lemons
Mix all three ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Spoon into individual glasses and garnish with mint, or spoon into a large trifle glass bowl and serve from there.
Describe Greece in a sentence!
Greece is a feast for the senses and the place where you will feel the most alive.
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At Zelos Authentic Greek Artisan we want our customers to experience the true tastes and flavors of modern Greece and enjoy the same genuine flavors that we grew up with. We only choose organic or natural products, without a hint of preservatives, that are produced locally in Greece by small businesses. When you buy one of our Artisans' products, you support a very small business with big dreams, one that embodies contemporary Greek culinary excellence.
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