FFE Magazine

Revolutionary dinner concept invades crisis-stricken Greece

by FFE EU News staff

Imagine eating your favourite home cooked meals for 3 to 4 Euros. This is what is happening around Athens today through “Cookisto” – an online community of amateur cooks and urban eaters.

Cookisto connects office workers, students and busy parents with local cooks – some of them stay-at-home mothers and unemployed professionals – who provide them with meals for less. Entrepreneurship student Michalis Gkontas, the person behind Cookisto, revealed that the site has attracted 12,000 cooks in Athens in the past months.

Gkontas is one of the many young Greeks who have found success in the start-up scene following the rise of unemployment. “It is a win-win situation. The cooks get to earn a little extra, while foodies get nutritious home-cooked dishes for cheaper than if they were to get a takeaway,” he said.

Local cooks with a profile in the community become instant chefs of the highest renown. Marilena Zachou, a housewife and “Cookista,” said “It's not all about the money.

“I feel we are pulling together in the crisis. Many students are struggling to make ends meet. I've been there… fed up of eating bread and takeaways. It's nice I can provide them with food their mothers would cook and for very little.”


Marinela Zachou preparing meals in her kitchen. Photo source: bbc.co.uk

According to Sydney-based innovation consultant Rachel Botsman, Cookisto joins an online revolution where “people have reverted to old market behaviours that involve trust – swapping, sharing, renting, bartering.” Online ratings and reviews, get-togethers and feedback sessions ensure that cooks are monitored for their hygiene and the freshness of their ingredients.

Evangelia Tavladoraki, a political scientist by training, said that being a Cookista helped her regain confidence after the shock of unemployment. She said “Every day I feel proud helping others. And the best reward I can get is when people tell me how much they like my food.” Her marinated sweet and sour chicken sells out in minutes, indicating that ethnic food is in demand.

“This is another road I have gone down because of the crisis. I didn't study cookery. But it makes me feel optimistic,” she added.

Cookisto will soon launch in Britain. Nikki Finnemore, head of the UK launch, emphasised that the community is more than just about lunch or dinner.

“[Cookisto is] about coming together as a local community and sharing the fruits of your labour, your creation. It's the experience of trusting a relative stranger to make a meal for you and to then meet for a face-to-face exchange.”

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