Listening to the radio recently, I heard an interview with a prominent chef who, at the age of 58 and with numerous distinctions under his belt, is considered a pioneer of the Greek culinary scene. Known for his good humor and kind heart, he has offered his significant talents to the restaurant of Shedia Home, a community initiative in downtown Athens led by the excellent street magazine that gives people sleeping rough or facing homelessness some much-needed revenue.
Shedia was started seven years ago by a journalist who learned about similar initiatives as the coach of the Greek homeless soccer team. “I knew in 2007 that we would soon do something similar in Greece,” he told Kathimerini in a June 2019 interview. “It took us six years because we had to learn how to go about it and raise the funds. We went through a lot of rejections until our Scottish colleagues suggested that we approach the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which they knew had funded a street magazine in Malawi. We went in 2012, with our plan… They gave us 80,000 euros, because we convinced them we could be viable.”
Shedia Home (56 Kolokotroni & Nikiou, Syntagma) is the latest step in this admirable initiative, a welcoming space for cultural events and meetings where the well-known chef has also offered his services, designing the menu and supervising the restaurant. “It is a great thing to take someone by the hand and lift them up again,” he said in the radio interview. The architect who designed the space and the bartender who designed the cocktails also offered their services free of charge.
Speaking on the radio, the renowned chef also mentioned the initiative of a “big and well-known newspaper” that published Shedia as a supplement to one of its Sunday editions on December 31 and donated all the proceeds from the newspaper’s sales to the magazine.
The past few years have seen a strange phenomenon take root in Greece. It is as though there were a ban on naming someone who did something bad but also on mentioning who did something good. But praise ought to be given where praise is due: The chef was Lefteris Lazarou, who was speaking to Areti Bita on ERA radio, Shedia is published by Christos Alefantis and the architect and mixologist mentioned above are Dimitris Potiropoulos and Petros Mytilineos, respectively. And the “well-known” newspaper that donated its proceeds to Shedia was none other than Kathimerini.