«Harokopio University of Athens conducted research on bottarga and the in vitro results showed that the product really regenerates human arteries. What is more, the research results were published in the acclaimed American scientific Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. Subsequent in vivo research carried out in cooperation with Pasteur Hellenic Institute showed that the consumption of Trikalinos Bottarga has remarkable antiatherogenic effects. The results of this significant research were presented during the 15th International Medical Symposium on Atheromatosis, organized by ELIKAR (Hellenic Heart Foundation), which was chaired by Dr. Toutouzas, «said Zafeiris Trikalinos, owner and President of the company TRIKALINOS BOTTARGA, in an interview to the magazine «In-On».
Q: What are the new innovative products of TRIKALINOS BOTTARGA?
Α: The new product of our company was officially launched on February 6, 2016. Trikalinos Avgotaraho PSYCHE is the result of a 160-year-long history, during which our family has activated in processing the precious and fine gift of the eggs of the Female Grey Mullet.
The birth of PSYCHE (meaning soul in Greek) involved 2 years of incessant research and implementation of an innovation that resulted in the Rebirth of the entire company, the Revision of our production processes and the investment of time and capital.
As it becomes evident from its name, the new product is the central part of Avgotaraho (bottarga), the core of the egg’s lobe, which remains juicy and unaffected by salt, therefore presenting salinity lower than 1%.
PSYCHE was named after the mythical PSYCHE and the beautiful allegory that, despite the sufferings and adversities in her life, the pretty young woman was never spoiled and remained attractive, pure and faithful to god Cupid.
The product PSYCHE is the core of bottarga and its creation required the best part of the soul of all our people who were involved in the process so that we could actually reveal it, after freeing it from wax and excess salt.
Q: Have laboratory controls shown that the products of your company are highly beneficial to human body?
Α: Having spent all my life in natural fish-farms, when I took over the company I realized that the times are changing and I should offer a different identity to bottarga. Therefore, I followed the advice of Gerassimos Vassilopoulos, a close friend of mine, and started by building in Athens the first facility certified for the production of bottarga in Greece.
I’ll tell you a story so that you can understand how it all started. Not a long time had passed since I had taken over the company when, one day, I was waiting for a friend who was having a check-up at a hospital. I was sitting in the lounge and my attention was drawn by a book about a healthy diet. The book underlined that bottarga is a forbidden product because it increases cholesterol levels and blood pressure. That really set me thinking and on the following days I almost lost my sleep as I was trying to find ways to offer the people a really healthy product. With the help of my collaborators, we extracted the salt and decreased bottarga’s degree of drying.
Because we wanted valid and purely scientific results, we contacted the scientists of Harokopio University of Athens so that they could test our product in their laboratories. To our great delight, the results showed that our bottarga regenerates human arteries. What is more, the research results were published in the acclaimed American Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. Moreover, following relevant research and cooperation with Pasteur Hellenic Institute, we proved that the consumption of Trikalinos Bottarga has remarkable antiatherogenic effects. The results of this great research were presented during the 15th International Medical Symposium on Atheromatosis, organized by ELIKAR (Hellenic Heart Foundation), which was chaired by Dr. Toutouzas.
In any case, Trikalinos Bottarga is not a medicine, but 100% natural top quality foodstuff, mildly processed, which therefore maintains the extremely high nutritional value it has as an exceptional raw material. That’s why a daily intake of only a few grams provides our body with significant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Protein, Selenium, Phosphorus, Iron, Vitamin C as well as Vitamins Β6 and Β12. The importance of eating something so close to its original form was first taught by Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, who insisted that our food is our medicine and vice versa.
Q: To what countries do you export your products? When did you start? What is the attitude of non-Greek consumers towards your products?
Α: Our company started organized exports in 2008. Until then, we had some top French delicatessen customers, while some amounts were also sold to English and American restaurants.
However, in 2008, we decided to address foreign markets more enthusiastically and turned to specific countries. Our penetration was market- and target-based.
It’s ten years now and we continue building up our reputation outside Greece and training our customers, both inside and outside Greece. Top international chefs have welcomed and recognized our products, while great commercial houses and tasters from all over the world have trusted them, thus rewarding our efforts.
There have been comments made by international publications, such as the New York Times, which mentioned in December 2017 that «Trikalinos Marinated Anchovy Fillets is one of the products we all should have on the table,» or the German TV channel ARD, whose main news bulletin has mentioned 3 times within the last 3 years that «In Greece there are innovative enterprises that stand out thanks to their top quality products and are included among the top international delicatessen firms, such as Trikalinos Company, which produces Trikalinos Bottarga. «The same message sends the title of the 6-page article/presentation by journalist Alan Richman that was published in the Air Canada enRoute in-flight entertainment system: «Trikalinos Bottarga is arguably the best caviar in the world.» Last May, the German news magazine Der Spiegel invited German tourists that were going to visit Greece «not to forget to bring to Germany some fine Greek Trikalinos Bottarga. «All this feedback proves that there are no borders for top quality products!
At the moment, we export to Europe, America and Asia, a total of over 30 countries, while our best customer is the French market, where our product is marketed as Poutargue Royale de Trikalinos!
Q: Which countries have awarded you a prize and why?
Α: Both Greek and international prizes we have been awarded for the Superior Taste and Quality of our products, but also for our Innovation and tasteful packaging (Greek Gourmet Awards 2006 and 2007, ITQI Superior Taste Award, Sial D’ Or, Pentawards 2009, Pentawards 2014, Best Packaging-Gold Medal at the Festival “Greece: A Feast of Tastes” 2013 and 2014), are moral rewards for all our efforts.
However, the most precious prize of all is the deep satisfaction and delight we see on our customers’ faces as well as their long-lasting support through all these years, despite the harsh economic crisis and the fact that we all have suffered income reductions. They honour us and let us join their family meals.
Q: Can you tell us a few words about the history of Trikalinos Bottarga?
Α: Trikalinos family has produced and traded bottarga since 1856. The 162 years of experience together with the knowledge of traditional fishing and the extraction and production of the appetizer from Aitoliko and Messolonghi, I mean the eggs of the grey mullet, have been handed down from father to son and from grandfather to grandson for a total of four generations.
In 1997, I took over the family business assigned with the task of modernizing it. It was a highly demanding and costly attempt, though very daring and necessary. The family business had to remain competitive in the Greek market and manage to build up its profile in international markets. Τhose issues and the respective actions had never arisen until then. Therefore, we needed careful research and a period of 18 years in order to envisage, plan and finally implement the changes required for the transition to the new era.
With a view to the future, I decided to concentrate all the processes for the production of bottarga in an integrated and fully controlled facility in terms of hygienic conditions, something that had never happened before as bottarga had traditionally been produced in the Vivaria of the lagoon. We conducted a series of sensory checks and concluded that the eggs of the grey mullet are particularly sensitive and are threatened by several contaminations and microbes produced in spaces lacking hygienic and safety conditions.
After I had the quality system and the food safety management systems ISO-certified, I was particularly careful with investments in quality assurance. But I did not stop there: I collaborated with reputable educational and research institutes, such as Harokopio University of Athens, Pasteur Hellenic Institute and the Faculty of Pharmacy and I still invest considerable amounts of money in researching and studying the role the properties of bottarga play in human health and taste.
The result of this love and commitment was the conversion of the traditional business into a powerful brand and the introduction of the products of Trikalinos Premium Grey Mullet Bottarga to the most famous European houses and the most creative professional cuisines in the world. In 2012, the most influential chef of all times, the Spaniard Ferran Adria, included it among the 30 Best and Healthiest gourmet products in the world.
By taking advantage of the huge legacy of experience and know-how, but always with a view to the future and the help of my associates, I managed to redefine the treasure of our tradition and renew its gustatory and nutritional identity, while I also offered the product fine packaging, thus placing Trikalinos Bottarga on the podium of international tastes.
Q: Can you tell us some famous palates adoring Trikalinos Bottarga?
Α: Αmong them are Prince Charles (Prince of Wales), Prince William and Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge), the American journalist and TV host Larry King, the actor Tom Hanks, Madonna, the food journalist Alan Richman, Pier Herme (the French Chef Patissieur), the famous chefs Alain Ducasse, Jose Andres, Eric Riperd, Juan Mari Arzak, Joan Roca and so many others.
Q: When was the company awarded prizes?
Α: Τhe company has been awarded the following prizes:
– 2006: Trikalinos Grey Mullet Bottarga Powder is proclaimed by Gourmet Awards as one of the innovative products at the International Food Exhibition Sial in Paris
– 2007: Gourmet Awards
– 2009: The famous chef Ferran Adria presents Trikalinos Bottarga at the Michelin 3-star restaurant El Bulli. Trikalinos New Packaging is awarded a prize by the international packaging competition Pentawards
– 2012: Τrikalinos Bottarga is awarded the prize of Superior Taste by ITQI
– 2013: Trikalinos Gift Box wins the first packaging prize in the respective competition during the Festival “Greece: A Feast of Tastes” held in Athens in May
– 2014: Trikalinos Sea Salt is launched in new pioneering packaging of 1-kg bags made from a material that can maintain the natural moisture of the product. In October of the same year, it is awarded the Bronze Medal for Packaging in Tokyo during the international competition Pentawards
– 2017: Trikalinos Company is awarded a prize by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the Best Brand of the year 2017
Zafeiris Trikalinos was born in 1958 and grew up on the island of Aitoliko of the regional unit of Aetolia-Acarnania. In his childhood years, he was introduced, loved and appreciated bottarga, the “golden fruit” of the lagoon of Aitoliko and Messolonghi, thanks to his father – a famous captain at a number of local fish-catching stations and head of the 3rd generation of the family business of traditional bottarga.
A strong mind gifted with positive / mathematical thinking, he early realized the value, the possibilities and the new prospects offered by the traditional processing of the eggs of the grey mullet. Therefore, he escaped the narrow family borders, which, for more than a century, had been confined to the restricted processing and trading of bottarga at local level.
As the head of the 4th generation of the traditional family business, Zafeiris Trikalinos took his own step forward by establishing the first integrated unit for processing and trading traditional bottarga. Looking ahead, he creates the first certified and highly advanced facility for processing bottarga, but also maintains the essence of the traditional processing and adheres to strict sanitary rules and checks throughout the production process. At the same time, he invests in R&D, thus promoting and financing research on bottarga, and in the study of its historical, cultural and culinary prospects.
The result of the inexhaustible efforts of the last 21 years is the successful introduction of the branded Trikalinos Bottarga in the baskets of the top delicatessens in the world and the greatest international restaurants, while the product is also considered as one of the 30 healthiest and top products in the world. It has been awarded both Greek and international prizes in Taste, Quality and Packaging competitions. In 2018, it was honoured by the Athens Commerce and Industry Chamber as the Best Brand.