It takes just a few minutes of conversation with Konstandinos “Kon” Kardaras the owner of Big Vic Deli to realise the man is a foodie above and beyond the normal sense of the word.

Big Vic Deli (Shop 25-28) has been a feature of the Dairy Hall of Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM) since Mr Kardaras’ father, George, opened it in 1965.

Mr Kardaras told Neos Kosmos he has customers who have been regulars for decades, but more and more people are discovering the deli’s unique offerings.  He took great pride in his family’s long association with the market.

“For me QVM is a centre of all good food in Melbourne. Commencing next year, QVM will undertake an extensive refurbishment of its food trading areas. I welcome this and believe it will cement the market as Melbourne’s leading food offering” said Mr Kardaras.

There are many worthy competitors in the Dairy Hall – 18 other delis who offer similar product lines; the challenge for Mr Kardaras has been how to stand out amongst them. His answer has been not only to foster a growing and loyal customer base but to provide a unique range of quality foods.

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“We look for edgy, interesting things and the latest example is N’duja, the spreadable, spicy hot Calabrian Salami that is shaped like a bomb with netting on the outside that is very popular in Melbourne. It is a huge seller for us.

“I curate food – I find what is good and present it to our customers. People have come to trust my products which are difficult to source. Our shop is about engagement, friendship and trust of service,” Mr Kardaras said.

“Another interesting product we have is an authentic Pastourma for which we have received rave listings from the Epicure in The Age,” he added.

The deli prides itself on having a fine selection of cured meats, including Vecchiet Small Goods products from New South Wales. Vecchiet have been awarded Best Salami in Australia for five years in a row.

“Of the more traditional Greek products, we also have a range of Lokanika (traditional Greek sausages) the varieties are: Leek, Red Wine and Orange Zest pork sausages, and the Karamalitika lamb and beef sausage.

“Greek customers get excited when they see the cheeses. We have feta from all over Greece, as well as Kefalotiri, Kaseri, Kefalograviera and Myzithra’” said Mr Kardaras. And with him being a Dairy Australia certified cheese judge, he ensures that the products that he sells are of a high calibre.

“We have a lot of Greek products, but we also pride ourselves in sourcing quality foods from Spain, France, Italy and Australia. The quality and authenticity is what sets our products apart,” said Mr Kardaras.

Another popular exotic food to be found at the deli is Bakalao – salted dried cod fish sourced from Iceland.

Mr Kardaras would help his father at the deli but took to the corporate life after he graduated from university with an economics degree. He was in that world for 19 years.

“I have a corporate background in accounting, advertising, stockbroking and IT. I was all set to go to the US when my dad called for me to help him at the deli. I packed up the flat and Sydney and came home and I have never looked back.

“I don’t live with regrets. You choose the best path and exploit the opportunities that come your way.”

Over the following years, Mr Kardaras came to represent all the traders at the market in negotiations with QVM management, Melbourne City Council and the Victoria State Government.

“For me coming back to Vic Market to continue my dad’s legacy has been the best move. It’s about engagement, trust and service,” said Mr Kardaras

Mr Kardaras said that the deli is finalising its own website so customers may order and have their produce delivered to their homes. For now, you can order from Big Vic Deli via the Queen Victoria Market’s Queen Vic Market Online link  or call (03) 9328 1633.