Chris Kay, Greek Food Importer, Owner of Carter Imports - Interview conducted by Tony Kariotis of GreekPosts.com
Tell me a little about yourself! Im a Greek American here in Northern California, and grew up as most Greek kids do, with Greek school, church on Sunday, and Greek dance. My mom was really the driving force of our Greek culture even though she's not Greek. She really found a home with the Greek church and Greek people who welcomed her in. Our Greek communities in California are quite a bit more spread out than other parts of the States but we do our part!
My Papou is from Kavala and met my Yiayia while stationed in Crete where she is from, and that's where they stayed. Im married with a threenager little girl and a son on the way due in October.
What does being Greek mean to you? We have a huge legacy to live up to! Whether you look at the foundations of our Western world, the base of our sciences, or story after story of some heroic deed throughout several thousand years of history, we have a lot to call back on.
We're also tough. My grandfather's family survived the Armenian genocide as Turkish speaking Orthodox Christians to settle in Kavala and become successful tobacco farmers, while my great grandfather fought the Nazi's during the Battle of Crete.
What makes you proud calling yourself Greek? We are the most hospitable people ever. We'll give you the shirt off our back, feed the weary, spend that last dime to help our fellow man. Its the true essence of filotimo which I think all of us are born with that we strive for. It's why a lot of us are so involved with our communities and charitable organizations; we have it in our blood to try and make the world a better place.
What inspired you to start Carter Imports? I started this venture after a few different life events converged in 2017. First, I lost 85 pounds, and when I took my family to Greece, we ate and drank like crazy...and I still lost weight. Its the quality of the products, real food, produced by families and people that you know, on a small scale which allows that quality to shine. Greek food is better!
On that trip, we visited my Papou's gravesite who I am named after, and its a little humbling to see your name on a headstone. Finally, we found out that we were pregnant on that trip, and unfortunately lost our son to a miscarriage a few months later. It was really at that point I realized that life is very important and precious, and felt the risk of doing nothing was FAR GREATER than a risk of failure. It was time to try.
Tell us a little bit about Carter Imports!! I have a three part mission with Carter Imports:
Promote Greek products Promote economic development in Greece Honor our son we lost in 2017
Right now we have two products that are available through our Web site; we work with the Koukakis family for our Elia Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and the Saviolakis family for our Cretan Thyme Honey, two really great partnerships. Right now, we're working hard to spread the good word on why Greek products are worth it! #buyGreek
How often do you get to visit Greece? Where do you stay!? I wish I could go all the time (PLEASE!!) but I try and go every other year. We visit my yiayia and lots of our family friends in Chania. We'll be going back next summer to take our newborn. Im hoping to get some time to head north and see Kavala.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us? I think it's easy to find a way to support Greece and Greeks. Buy the art. Listen to the music. Subscribe to the newsletter. Encourage people to vacation there. It all helps!
I'll give this example: getting a pallet of olive oil here to the States, besides our supplier, we used a Greek company for the bottles, a Greek Company for the boxes, a Greek company for the domestic shipping and a Greek company for the international shipping. In the course of one order we might use five to 10 different Greek based businesses, and that helps, even in a small way, get the Greek economy moving in the right direction.
Thank you, Chris! We look forward to following your journey!!
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