Cooking with a Conscience

Cooking with a Conscience

“Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles’ cheeky quote was the inspiration for Vassilenas restaurant, celebrating its centennial anniversary this year, as they decided to open their kitchens by cooking for the most vulnerable section of Athenian society, the homeless, during the quarantine period.

Veniamin Daskalakis,Thanassis Vassilainas and Chef Manolis Garnelis cook for Shedia’s newspaper vendors

Shedia, Greece’s street newspaper published every last Wednesday of the month has long highlighted the cause of the homeless since 2013, when the economic crisis pushed the unemployed out of their homes and on to the streets. When the Covid pandemic struck, the Shedia newspaper vendors were severely hit. Arguably, one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus, and confined indoors during lockdown, they had to also worry about basic survival.

Each of the metal and papier-mache mobiles represents a homeless person who has been rehomed

Vassilenas, celebrating its 100 th anniversary this year, (a restaurant with its roots in the gritty, disadvantaged neighbourhood of Piraeus), stepped in to make sure that Shedia’s vendors would be provided meals for the entire duration of the quarantine. Thanasis Vassilainas and Benjamin Daskalakis with chefs Manolis Garnelis and Vassilis Papadopoulos donned their aprons to do what they know best: to masterfully bring alive the rich flavours of traditional Greek cuisine. From festive Easter meals (mageiritsa, lamb with potatoes, taramosalata) to nutrient-rich comfort food (legumes, pastas and salads), they have been cooking up a storm at both Shedia Home’s kitchen at Kolokotroni and at Vassilena’s kitchen on Vrasida Street.

The meals are then distributed to different corners of the city (courtesy of a take-away service with the support of Interamerican) where Shedia’s vendors have been housed. Vassilenas demonstrates that staying home doesn’t mean staying indifferent. If you’d like to contribute or support this initiative in any way you can, please call 213 023 12 20 or send an email to

Shedia Home, a restaurant run by the homeless on Kolokotroni street

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