Martha Stewart’s Radio Program "Start Ups" Interviews Esther Luongo Psarakis, founder of Taste of Crete

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Esther Luongo Psarakis, founder of Taste of Crete, a gourmet food company that focuses on the healthy foods of Greece will be interviewed by Joan Durand, host of "Start Ups" on Martha Stewart Living Radio.

Esther Psarakis will be interviewed by Joan Durand, host of "Start Ups," this Saturday, May 27th at 7pm on Martha Stewart Living Radio, which is carried on Sirius Satellite Radio. Ms. Psarakis is the founder of Taste of Crete, a gourmet food company that focuses on the healthy foods of Greece. She started Taste of Crete because of a personal passion for its food, people and culture. A non-Greek, she married into a large Greek family and her yearly journeys back to the family farm inspired her to start Taste of Crete. Joan Durand was intrigued by her engaging and interesting path to entrepreneurship, and felt she would be a great example for her audience. Every week Joan Durand interviews a new entrepreneur and explores the path she took from her past life as employee to her new one, as a successful business owner.

“What a wonderful opportunity to be speaking with Joan Durand on Martha Stewart Living Radio” says Esther Psarakis “ I am passionate and excited about Taste of Crete and I hope that my experiences and lessons learned can be an inspiration to others” Ms. Psarakis felt that the years she spent working for other major corporations such as Citibank and American Express in sales, marketing and global account management gave her a firm foundation on which to start her own company. “I was able to transfer my skill sets into getting my own company up and running” explains Ms. Psarakis. “Now I am using more of my creative side in the development, design and marketing of Taste of Crete’s products”

For example, her logo for Taste of Crete are hands reaching out with a plate of olives and the Greek Key design underneath. “ I wanted to convey the Greek concept of hospitality, the importance of sharing food with others. In fact there is a specific term in Greek, “Philoxinia, which translated means “friendship to strangers”” The colorful and eye catching label of her award winning extra virgin olive oil is based on the colors of the ancient Minoan temple of Knossos. An olive oil of exceptional quality, it just won Gold in the 2006 International Olive Oils of the World Competition. Taste of Crete qualifies for the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) certification, which is the European Union recognition of its exceptional quality and adherence to traditional methods of production. It is also among the lowest in acidity, less than 0.3%.

Her latest product, Evangelia’s Traditional Greek Cookies- Olive Oil & Wine, are named in honor of her mother-in-law since they are baked according to her recipe. They contain no eggs or butter, thus there are no trans fats and no cholesterol . The packaging again highlights her creativity. A beautiful photo of her mother-in-law adorns the box with a Greek key design and entwined olive branches and grape vines. She credits her graphic artist, Diane Benjamin, of Pomegranate Design with being very attuned to her branding and design needs. Other products include raw Greek honeys, and Greek cookbooks.

Ms. Psarakis also credits her success to support she has received from her advisors at the Small Business Development Center based at Raritan Valley Community College. “They have been integral to my success, guiding me and giving me the confidence to keep moving forward” As a result, Ms. Psarakis was the 2005 Small Business Success Award Winner. She also was a 2005 Stevie Award Finalist for “Best New Company”

She spent a great deal of time educating herself on her new venture, such as obtaining a Certificate in Import/Export from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and attending classes on the Sensory Appreciation of Olive Oil with the University of California. Her family and close friends have also been strong supporters.

All of this support and education, was mission critical on her road to success.

Another important and personal aspect to her business is how she ships and packages her products to a number of her clients, including Kings Supermarkets, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace and gourmet stores in a number of states. Ms. Psarakis uses the services of The Adult Services Division of the Midland School based in North Branch, thus giving employment opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities.

As Taste of Crete continues to grow, Ms. Psarakis plans to expand the range of products she carries as well as continue to do cooking demos and lecture on the Healthy Diet of Crete, one of the best versions of the famous Mediterranean diet. “My goal is to share my passion for Crete, in particular its food, with health conscious and gourmet food loving Americans.” explains Ms. Psarakis “Given the Greek’s love of music and dance, I enjoy telling people that using Taste of Crete will ‘Make their food dance with Flavor!’”

Taste of Crete products are through her web site, and through a number of gourmet locations. A list of those locations can be found on her website.


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