DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
Daphnis and Chloe is a culinary herb company based in Athens, Greece. Founded by Evangelia Koutsovoulou, Daphnis and Chloe sells high quality herbs and spices sourced from local farmers who share the same philosophy.
In this interview, Evangelia tells us how she first got interested in herbs, how she works with suppliers and also shares some of the best sellers at Daphnis and Chloe.
Photos by Athanasios Gatos
Tell us about Daphnis and Chloe. How did you get interested in herbs in the first place?
Spending my Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market and the afternoons in my kitchen preparing dinners for friends is one of the very few habits – or hobbies if we can call it so – that I have maintained over the years. I’m quite picky with ingredients – if I decide to make a salad, I want to choose the tomatoes by myself. I started cooking while I was living in Italy and I can remember that for years I’d return from my trips to Greece with bunches of handpicked oregano. I did so because even though Milan is a great place for food, it was impossible to find dried herbs as good as the ones that my mum was using.
At a certain point a friend noticed the difference, then another one. They started asking for their share of Greek herbs, which inspired me to find out more about them. After some research, I realized that the finest of Mediterranean herbs that grow in my country, rarely leave the places where they grow. And this is how I decided to found Daphnis and Chloe.
Daphnis and Chloe has a very distinct brand identity. Tell us more about the packaging, photography and illustrations you create – what was the creative process behind creating Daphnis and Chloe?
Omar, my boyfriend, was one of the first to hear about the idea and he’s a very good graphic designer so he designed the logo and we have worked together on the identity. It all happened as in a family business – Adrianna who does most of our pictures and Marcela who did the illustrations are both dear friends. It still happens more or less like this – we use the limitations imposed by the circumstances as a source of inspiration and we try to do things nicely!
How do you source your herbs and work with the suppliers?
Sourcing is a never-ending process. We do mappings of the areas where cultivars of our interest naturally perform better, try samples from nearby farmers who have invested or are willing to invest on local varieties and we work with professionals who share our same credos. We have the scientific support of researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the American Farm School of Greece – they provide us with precious advice for the crops and they contribute to a better knowledge of the herbal richness of the country. Greece has more than 5,000 different varieties of plants and about one fifth of them are endemic – they can only be encountered here.
What’s the most popular selling herb at Daphnis and Chloe?
It depends, but I’d say that almost every order includes at least one of our oreganos. Also, lately I’ve noticed that our chili flakes have several big fans who for some reason are mostly men!
How do you use the herbs in your home cooking? What’s your favourite dish?
I’m a lover of quality staples, which means that in my larder there’s always a good pasta, olive oil, nuts… And I really enjoy improvising. A few days ago I went back home and in my fridge there was just a couple of zucchini and some aged goat cheese. I made pasta with our fennel seeds and spicy flakes plus the two ingredients above… it was a revelation!
Do you think there is currently a food community in Athens?
I couldn’t tell if there’s such thing as a community, but through my work I’ve met a lot of amazing people from all across the country who do great things with food. They dry raisins or they run lovely groceries… most of them have been building their small businesses for a few years now and it’s great to see that a growing number of people is appreciating their passion.
Tell us more about Athens. Is it a creative city? What are your favourite spots in the city?
It is a very lively city with many interesting neighborhoods. I live just under the Acropolis and my favorite spots are in a walking distance: The Philopappos Hill and my favorite bars where I often meet my friends for drinks after work, like Bluebird or Heteroklito.
Would you say it is easy to start up a business in Greece at the moment?
It’s much easier! The rents are cheaper and more people are willing to support good ideas. It doesn’t matter how big is the door that you are knocking – if you have something meaningful to say, you will be heard. Small enterprises are more appreciated than in the past, not just in Greece but in many other parts of the world as well.
What’s next for Daphnis and Chloe – any exciting plans you can share with us?
This month we are launching our new eshop. A brand new series of summer recipes that we cooked here in Athens with Adrianna will be on our blog very soon as well!