European Spotlight: Theo Iliadis, cheese merchant
What does it take to sell cheese to soldiers?
To sell, you got to like people and be honest and fair to everyone. It’s not a matter of selling, it’s a matter of being honest to people.
How did you get your start as cheese salesman?
(A friend suggested selling cheese to him more than a decade ago, and he never looked back.) Thanks to him, I am very happy.
Europeans love their cheese. But what do Americans like?
An American likes his cheese. He has his favorites, and I’m trying to get him out of that. The Gouda is very common, very progressive. I have a South African herb cheese. Flavors can be changes sometimes, accidentally.
What’s the hardest part about selling?
The biggest challenge is to be yourself. If you can’t be yourself, you might as well give it up.
You say not to refrigerate a lot of the cheeses you sell. Why?
It loses moisture and dries out.
What makes your shop better than just grabbing some American cheese slices out of the commissary deli counter?
I know a lot about cheeses. I’ve studied.
Interview by Geoff Ziezulewicz.
Job: Runs three shops called Dutch Cheese and Gifts on Germany bases at Spangdahlem, Ramstein and Vilseck; soon will open store in Schweinfurt.
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