Sunday, January 06, 2013

Nick Trastelis of Kalypso Greek Yogurt – Tradition Made New

Nick Trastelis - Founder of Kalypso Greek Yogurt

I’m wandering the stalls at the Northport, Long Island Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market on a bright, chilly Saturday afternoon and can’t help but take note of the palm-sized, rustic terracotta pots stacked high at a nearby booth.    I’m instantly curious what they contain. 
So, I strike up a conversation with Nick Trastelis, the founder of Kalypso Greek Yogurt.   Nick has a warm and sunny demeanor that conjures up thoughts of his Mediterranean heritage.   I quickly learn that terracotta pots are the traditional way of serving Greek yogurt. Nick is a fourth generation Greek yogurt craftsman, and the terracotta pots contain his family recipe – an impossibly thick and delicious artisanal strained Greek yogurt.   I sample the Mango Kalypso Greek Yogurt and I’m hooked.  The company’s tag line, “seductively delicious” is no exaggeration.  

“We’ve been making yogurt for over 100 years in my family,” Nick explains. “Everything is crafted in-house at our facility in Jackson Heights – the fruits, the yogurt, everything.    The fruit bases are my grandmother’s.  Some of the newer flavors like the Mango are mine.”

Nick’s family was producing Greek yogurt professionally “before it was even in the lexicon in North America.”  Most of the business was devoted to servicing restaurants, food service, and catering and private label.  But, inside these charming terracotta pots is not only a venerable family recipe but also the story of Nick’s personal food odyssey that occurred on the Greek island of Mykonos.   

Nick had been living in Greece and noticed a little yogurt bar near a bus stop that attracted flocks of tourists in Mykonos.   “They made the most amazing yogurt,” he explains.  “So, I got talking to them and picking their brains and it all just made sense.” 

He returned to the United States with a new vision.  “I came back to New York and said we’re changing everything we’ve been doing for the last 27 years.  I said, enough of the private label, we’re going to start rolling out our own individual cups.”

Kalypso Greek Yogurt comes in a variety of flavors, including Plain, Honey, Black Cherry, Blueberry, Vanilla, Fig, and Mango and is non-fat.   Nick uses 100 percent all natural ingredients and each 6-ounce cup of Kalypso contains 150 to 200 mg of calcium.  
Nick has infused the company and the product not only with tradition, but modern environmental sensibilities as well.  “I’m actually trying to change the consciousness of food packaging and eating healthier,” Nick explains.  “So that’s why we stick with tradition, serving the Greek yogurt in our terra cotta cups.  That’s how we did it back home, so why deviate from that?” 

“Landfills are filled with plastic containers which take about 15 to 20 years to actually break down,” he explains.  “This terra cotta cup goes back into the system in less than a couple of weeks.  It’s a sustainable packaging.”

In the end, what seems to inspire Nick most is the goodness and healthfulness of his family’s recipe.  
“It’s like wanting to share this gift of nature,” he says.  “It’s such a simple product.   It’s fermented milk.    It’s so basic, and so good for you.”

Contact Nick at 

©2013 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fun discovery T.W. You go to the most interesting places. I bet Nick's yogurt tastes nothing like that grocery story stuff which sometimes takes on the flavor of the plastic container :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm passing this on to my kids who live in Jackson Heights. I wonder if this company goes to some of the summer farmers markets in the neighborhood.

Deana Sidney said...

I've been returning milk bottles for years now... it's easy as could be. I wish more things were done that way. What lovely containers he's done. I look forward to giving it a try.

Linda Eatherton said...

Wishing he would open a shop in Chicago! We are addicted to Greek yogurt but hate the plastic piles we are creating.

tasteofbeirut said...

I'd buy his yogurt instantly if it was distributed near my area in DFW. The story and packaging took me back decades to my years growing up in Beirut; our yogurt was delivered every week in a terra cotta pot and had a thick layer of cream on top. That was how it was sold back then like the Greeks. In Lebanese cuisine, half the sauces have yogurt in them anyway.

Barbara said...

What a find, T.W.! Wish it were distributed here. And those clay pots are adorable all by themselves. I'd plant herbs in them after I'd eaten all that delicious yogurt. Had no idea that was the traditional way for packaging.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Sounds like a terrific yogurt...maybe it will be to New England one day.

Zany said...

Yum, the honey yogurt sounds like an awesome sweet treat. I'm really liking the packaging, too. Very creative, and better for the environment, too!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely discovery, T.W.!

Thanks so much for shring with us! Very interesting & a lovely post too!

Gloria Baker said...

Nice post T.W. I really love greek yogurt and use a lot in my kitchen is awesome!!

Kat said...

I would love for my Daughter In Law to have some of this. What cute little packages they come in. I loved hearing their story.

Anonymous said...

I had the good fortune to find this yogurt at my local farmers market in long beach ny. This yogurt is amazing and the best part is its local!!
atlantic beach ny