Transatlantic Friendship Leads to Unique Greek Herb Business

Kiriaki Iordanou of Athens, Greece (left) and Ian Scott of Orangeville, Ontario (right)

Several years ago, Ian Scott of Orangeville, Ontario met Kiriaki Iordanou of Athens online and in September 2017 decided to take a much-needed vacation to Greece to meet in person.

At the time, Scott had no idea this recreational trip would also see the start of a new business venture.

Many people who had been to Greece had told him the food just tastes better there. It did not take Scott much time to realize that the reason for this could very well be due to the oregano which is found in almost all Greek dishes.

Greek Reporter contacted Ian who shared the beginning of his foray into Mediterranean cuisine:

“I discovered that true Greek oregano had a bold taste and aroma that I’ve never had with any oregano I’ve purchased in Canada,” Scott says.

“The oregano in Greece was so amazing that I brought back several kilos meant for personal use. But then I provided small samples to others who were curious and the reaction was nothing short of amazing.”

Originally, Scott’s trip was just to spend time with his friend in Athens. However, this journey was the first of several trips back and forth between Canada and Greece, as part of a business idea now known as KirIan oregano.

Kiriaki and Ian spent much time travelling through various parts of Greece trying to find the highest quality oregano and sampling many different producers’ best of 2017’s harvest.

“We managed to narrow down our favorite samples and then recruited Ms. Iordanou’s family and friends to blind taste and smell testing sessions to be certain that we’d import to Canada only the best we could find,” Ian tells Greek Reporter.

“Of course, it was a huge advantage as well to do business in Greece and to have the assistance and help of Greek-speaking friends,” Ian says. “None of the producers had much English, and none use email. I am so thankful to the entire Iordanou family for their support in this venture.”

Product launch

KirIan Greek Oregano was finally made available for sale in Canada after months of planning, research and package design.

“It’s been an exciting process,” Iordanou says while visiting Orangeville, Canada. “To be visiting this country during the time we are able to launch the product is wonderful!”

It is also important to mention that KirIan imported oregano has been officially lab analyzed by Greece’s Food Allergens Laboratory.

Although there are some who claim to be importing ‘wild’ oregano, it should be noted that harvesting wild herbs for commercial use is illegal in Greece. Consumers of such products are contributing to serious soil erosion problems and over-harvesting of wild mountain oregano.

“It was really important to us to ensure our product was the best available on the commercial market, and procured from producers who use only environmentally sustainable practices,” Ian says, adding:

“Our products will always be of the highest quality and produced in a way that does not damage the environment. In addition to the wonderful taste and aroma, it is also important to us to have a product that is pure. So many of the oregano brands available in stores have been proven to be adulterated with other non-oregano material.”

True Greek oregano (origanum vulgare hirtum) is also a different sub-species of oregano than most sold in North America. Much of the supply there comes from Turkey and some is actually common marjoram (not to be confused with sweet marjoram). Although members of the same family, these do not have the same bold flavor and aroma punch as origanum vulgare hirtum.

“I loved hearing the testimonials first-hand from those who have received our oregano samples while I have been visiting here,” Iordanou says. “Yes, the taste and aroma is the proof that oregano from my country can really add a big flavor hit to Canadian cuisine.”

“And now, Canadians can have the closest thing to a real Greek salad without having to visit Greece!

“We’ll have to work on that Canadian feta though,” Iordanou smiles.

KirIan Oregano is available online and will also be available through selected retailers.