When you hear the term ‘Gringlish’, a unique merging of Greek and English linguistic form comes to mind. But in Melbourne the word has spread beyond linguistic circles and is fast becoming synonymous with the inspo you’re after for your next event.
The Gringlish Co. is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Heleena Alatsas and celebrated Greek Australian chef Philip Vakos.
The pair, who own and run the renown restaurant Bahari together with their good friend Stell Kaponas, found they were always bouncing creative ideas off each other, so with Heleena’s extensive background in marketing and events, and Philip’s talent for feeding people, it seemed natural to create their own business offering creative catering, styling, and event planning with a point of difference.
“It made perfect sense for us to merge our passions through this company,” Heleena told Neos Kosmos, and they have developed a concept that they feel represents who they are, how they live, and how they go about their daily lives.
“Similar to many other Australian Greeks living in Melbourne, we have merged our heritage with our ‘Aussie’ lifestyle; and we feel the combination is truly unique. We love reflecting this through our work, and coupled with our tastes and style, the true #gringlishstyle was born!”
To get an idea of their concept, and aesthetic, think ‘Greek Influence meets Melbourne Food Culture’, reflected in their logo which has the exact coordinates of ‘Greece X Melbourne’ – if that’s not attention to detail, I’m not sure what is.
“These days the events and food industries are increasingly competitive, so I’m always immersed in reading up on new things, keeping an eye on future trends; and at the same time ensuring that our ‘Gringlish’ touch is present; making it a unique style to us and for our clients,” Heleena explains.
The aesthetic is rustic and romantic with a refined touch; a style that Heleena has developed having grown up in and around events, along with her years working with creative agencies and as an energetic part of Melbourne’s hospitality events scene.
In fact one of her favourite parts of the job is researching and collecting styling props from vintage stores and other locations across Melbourne.
Recognising the important role they play in being an integral part in people’s special events, Heleena ensures that she offers people the full service by sitting down to discuss their vision over a coffee beforehand, and putting their mind at ease, which she says is really rewarding.
“The really exciting thing about having a creative company is that no event or project will ever be the same – and each one allows to bring to life something new,” says Heleena.
Meanwhile Philip enhances the overall aesthetic with the delicious combination of flavours, which considers that old adage that we first eat with our eyes.
“Philip is really great at turning a creative brief into a delicious morsel! The way he takes an ingredient and brings a new menu item to life, really rings true to our purpose,” Heleena says.
Having launched in August 2017, in a relatively short space of time the pair have already worked on a number of events, including weddings, christenings, baby showers, kitchen teas, and birthdays.
“We offer a really personal service, and there’s no strict menu in place as such. Philip likes to have flexibility to use seasonal ingredients, as well as reflect the client’s tastes; whilst staying true to ‘Gringlish’ at the same time,” says Heleena.
They can provide roaming canapés, styled grazing tables, styled dessert tables and seated share plates.
“Philip always considers the ingredient and where it comes from, how it tastes, what it will look like as part of the greater ‘Gringlish’ event. His aim is to have his food make an impression on people – showcasing Greek flavours wherever he can.”
The pair tested their skills ahead of launching Gringlish on a very special event of their own. Heleena and Philip organised their own surprise wedding in April last year, “of course planned, styled, and catered by us!” says Heleena, and she says the key to pulling off a memorable event is “experience, attention to detail, and people”.
“Philip and I have both worked our way up in our respective fields, and over time and many venues, kitchens, brand activations, spaces – you see a lot, and learn a lot along the way,” she says.
“I truly believe that physically doing something yourself is the only way to really gain experience. When you’ve played all the roles in a potential event, that’s when you can truly plan for a smooth execution. You know how much time things really take, what to plan for, to respond quickly and be solution focused, and how to motivate people to feel engaged in your company. People are really key, as you need a good team around you, who care about the outcome of every event.”
Having grown up very close to the Greek Community in Melbourne, she also relishes in seeing her business serve “a greater purpose, in preserving our Greek culture, albeit with a twist, for generations to come”.
“It’s really nice to see Greek influence playing such a big a role at these special events, and makes us feel like we are really putting our greater purpose to work!”
So far, Heleena says she is excited by the response, and in 2018 is keeping her focus on meeting more great people, and spreading the #gringlish love.
“It’s been really nice to have the support of people early on, and we can’t wait to see what this year has in store. There are a few other projects in the pipe line as well, so stay tuned!”