CULTURE

Director sheds light on Greece’s landscape and culinary delights

What would be the best setting for the perfect combination of tourism and gastronomy? That would be Greece, of course, but the question is what steps have been taken to make the most of this winning combo?

Kathimerini recently caught up with Constantinos Tseklenis, a director-photographer who for the last few years has been focusing on three of his greatest passions: his work, food and wine. Armed with a high-definition video camera, he has traveled to the most remote areas of the country to record the people and hard work behind local products carrying the Greek PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellation.

Tseklenis’s quest has resulted in thousands of hours of exceptional video material depicting the very best of what the Greek soil has to offer – raw materials which are subsequently put to good use by leading chefs and devoted taverna-owners alike.

A part of this footage was donated by Tseklenis to the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO). This year the organization has opted for a rather intelligent strategy: Instead of allotting large sums of money to the development of advertising campaigns, GNTO’s website will be offering visitors a series of onscreen adventures taking in the marvels of Greece’s cuisine and its spectacular landscapes.

Three years ago Tseklenis was behind a highly successful campaign showing locations which reminded audiences of foreign destinations, when in fact, they were images of Greece. In the near future the director is expected to launch a site dedicated to the project, which will include images and videos expanding on the history and production of local PDO products.

“We are thinking of including visual seminars which will offer decoration tips to restaurant owners, for example. Aesthetics is a key factor when enjoying good food as well as when it comes to being worthy ambassadors of Greek gastronomy for our international visitors, whether they are knowledgeable with regard to our diet or just want to enjoy a tasty salad by the sea after a swim,” said Tseklenis.

“As an artist I tried to capture the Greek landscape. As I went along I discovered that the country’s beauty was not solely confined to its mountains and seas, but also reflected in the products and flavors produced by its soil,” he said. “Gastronomy is an immense art form and we have the necessary prerequisites to become the world’s top destination. Unfortunately we lag behind in terms of communication as well as in terms of the conscience that people working in the food and tourism sectors ought to develop with regard to the tremendous value of quality raw materials and how to put them to good use,” he noted.

“Local cuisine is capable of small miracles. Santorini is not only about its caldera, but also about its ‘fava,’ fragrant capers and Assyrtiko wine. It is no coincidence that as of late chefs have been striving to incorporate all these top-quality ingredients in their food. Who wants to come to Greece to taste penne with salmon and whisky? The ongoing crisis is forcing us to discover our culinary passion and go in search of a different set of values.”