How I Got Here: Télémaque Argyriou

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here with Télémaque Argyriou founder of contemporary Greek restaurant Kalimera in London's Crouch End

Related tags: Greek cuisine, Street food restaurant

The founder of contemporary Greek restaurant Kalimera in London's Crouch End on building his business, and why the sector is too attached to the big delivery companies.

Why restaurants?
I’ve always been passionate about food, and especially modern Greek food. I’m fascinated by the way a millennia-old cuisine can evolve without diverting from its origins.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Not to overload myself and take some time off from time to time – without feeling guilty for doing so.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
Palomar. I love the inventiveness of the menu and the modern take on another very old cuisine – not to mention the whole set up with the busy kitchen behind the bar.

What motivates you?
The way people respond to our food, the busy queues at an event, the recognition of what we have achieved.

What keeps you up at night?
All possible scenarios of things that could go wrong.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Kalimera is definitely a collective brainchild and has received the footprint of various people through the years, and two in particular have been instrumental to the business: Anastasios Paschalidis (chef), who has been around since the beginning and always kept the standards high without any compromise, and Charlotte Droulers, who has been my partner in crime in exceptionally tough periods and helped me bring Kalimera to the next level.

What time do you wake up?
8am.

Coffee or tea?​ 
Coffee – no sugar, and preferably soya milk .

How often do you check your email?​ 
Every five minutes.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Tiles please!

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Tuna pasta – tuna, linguini, chopped tomatoes, capers, walnuts, chilli flakes, parsley.

Typical Sunday?
The good (or bad) thing with hospitality is that you never get a typical Sunday.

Favourite holiday destination?
Spain (besides Greece and France).

What are you currently reading?
1808​ by Laurentino Gomes.

What boxset are you currently watching?
Just finished Losing Alice​ on Apple+.

What was your dream job growing up?
Architect.

Worst business decision?
There are no bad business decisions as long as you learn from them and don’t repeat them. Though if I could go back in time, I might not have opened a unit at Camden Market.

Best business decision?
Opening a unit at Ground Control, Paris. It has been the perfect spot in terms of vibrancy, quality and positive interaction with us.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Be involved and don’t just flag issues, bring the solutions to them.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Definitely the delivery model.  Unfortunately we are too attached to the big delivery companies and this is not sustainable in the long term.

Bio

Born in Athens in 1975, Argyriou studied banking and financial law in Lyon, and then went on to join BNP Paribas in 1998. Rising through the ranks, with roles in London, Paris, and New York (and simultaneously attaining his Executive MBA from the Paris Business School in 2007) Argyriou left the company after 17 years to launch Kalimera. Originally operating out of a food truck at lunchtime food markets including Hoxton Street Market, Broadgate Circle, and Kerb King’s Cross - as well as private events and festivals such as Latitude, Goodwood, and BST Hyde Park - Argyriou later went on to operate stands in Camden Market, and at Mercato Metropolitano Elephant & Castle. He has also launched a pair of stalls in France, in Paris and Lille respectively. Earlier this year, Argyriou launched Kalimera's first permanent restaurant space in London's Crouch End.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Street Food

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