Following the return to in-house dining many restaurants and foodservice operators are looking for ways to both strengthen their menus, as well as making them healthier.
One of the ways those goals can be achieved is by using high quality, health-conscious cheeses. Epiros, a family-owned company that has grown into the second largest producer of cheese in Greece offers a full line of solutions to enable chefs and operators to accomplish that goal.
“Remaining virtually unchanged since its invention, the production of original Feta cheese is devoted to tradition and quality,” said Epiros General Manager, George Lazaris. Epiros’ cheese production is set on the foot of a mountainous range in the Epirus region, in Northwest of Greece, and is the 2nd largest cheese production in Greece, located in Ammotopos, Arta. “We are able to process approximately 35.000 tons of milk annually, with our daily milk source coming from 1200 local sheep and goat headers. These free-grazing herds feed on the flora unique to the Epirus district giving our product its great taste. With our State-of-the-Art production and packaging facility, we are committed to a Total Quality Assurance system of the highest standards and strictest certifications.”
In creating a menu strategy, it is essential that the chef and foodservice professional understand the difference between cheeses produced with goats’ milk and cheeses produced with cow’s milk. Lazaris has the answer. “In general sheep and goat milk made cheeses are a healthier source of dairy because they are; easier to digest, less inflammatory and allergenic, and more nutrient-dense then cow milk based cheeses,” Lazaris continued.
“Feta also has four times more vitamin D than Parmesan, three times more calcium than Brie, two times more vitamin B12 than Cheddar, two times more Iron than Blue cheese and 70% less Calories than Mozzarella. Additionally, Feta contains 14 grams of protein per cup, in addition to various vitamins and minerals including, riboflavin, Vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorous. Also, Epiros’ cheese is made with using a microbial vegetable-based rennet which makes it suitable for vegetarians.”
In addition to be a healthier alternative to cow milk-based cheeses, Epiros products offers chefs an extensive variety of preparation options. “We have a wide array of products including, Feta, cubed Feta, low salt Feta, Organic Feta, 100% goat milk Feta, Light Feta with reduced fat, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Kefalograviera hard cheese, Kefalotyri hard cheese, Kefalograviera Saganaki and Talagani Grill cheese which is our take on Mizithra cheese,” said Lazaris. “Most chefs prefer to use our Feta, Kefalograviera/Kefalotyri Hard cheese, Talagani and on some occasions Mizithra. They use our cheeses for a variety of dishes including Feta as saganaki and on top of the Greek/Horiatiki (Village) salad, Hard cheese and Talagani as a Grill cheese and/or cooked with some ingredients. Chefs also use our Mizithra mainly as shredded/grated cheese on pasta but depending on the restaurant and what their concept is, they may also choose Light, Goat or Organic Feta cheese as well as Kaseri.”
With the return of in person dining, many restaurants are looking to revamp their menus with new ideas that would help to bring back customers. According to Lazaris a strong option is through the adoption of the Mediterranean diet. “Following a Mediterranean diet is not only delicious and may make you feel like you’re on vacation in Greece, but it can also help to boost your health,” said Lazaris. The Mediterranean diet is packed with fruits and veggies, fish, whole grains, and healthful fats such as those found in our cheeses. By incorporating aspects of the Mediterranean diet into their menu a restaurant is not only adding tasty options but options that benefit the health of their customers.”
For those who are interested in Epiros’ expansive, authentic line of competitively priced Greek cheeses more information can be found online