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Greek CommunityBusinessCelebrating Success and Unity: The Resounding Triumph of the 32nd Hermes Expo...

Celebrating Success and Unity: The Resounding Triumph of the 32nd Hermes Expo and Awards Dinner

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By Leslie Krowchenko, Special to the Hellenic News of America

Whether it was their first time attending or their thirtieth, participants at the 32nd Hermes Expo were treated to an engaging and memorable experience. From forging new connections to reconnecting with old friends, from gathering giveaways to indulging in delectable samples, everyone had a fantastic time. The event, held on June 14 at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, New Jersey, brought together entrepreneurs, professionals, and industry leaders for a day of networking, business opportunities, and celebration. The Hermes Expo serves as a cornerstone event for both Greek-American and Philhellenic professionals, as well as those interested in Greek culture.

VIP International exhibiting for the third year in a row showcasing its new cosmetic line, EUPHORIE

Paul Kotrotsios, the founder and president of the Hermes Expo, warmly welcomed attendees, emphasizing the unique opportunity to gain invaluable insights and connect with industry experts. Since its inception, the expo has served as a catalyst for fostering business connections, promoting entrepreneurship, and honoring achievements within the community. It provides a platform for companies to showcase their products and services, form strategic partnerships, and increase their visibility in the market.

The expo featured a diverse range of exhibitors from various industries, states, and nations. Visitors were not only tantalized by the aroma of Greek appetizers, entrees, and desserts served in bite-sized samples but also had the opportunity to explore services in healthcare, technology, and finance. James Polos, the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, praised Paul Kotrotsios for his visionary approach in establishing and growing the expo into a resounding success.

Michael Pappas, former Republican congressman from New Jersey, and currently the Township Administrator in Bridgewater, New Jersey, greeted the attendees of the Hermes Expo

The expo commenced with a meaningful prayer and the blessing of water by Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, along with Father Nektarios Cottros and Deacon Konstantinos Loukas. The parable of the talents was read, reminding everyone of the importance of using their God-given gifts in His service and taking risks for the sake of His Kingdom.

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Among the exhibitors, Grecian Delight/Kronos Foods and Hackensack Meridian Old Bridge Medical Center stood out as primary sponsors. Fantis Foods, General Mills, Global Golden Spark, Kontos Foods, Megas Yeeros, Pocket King Foods, Sirob Imports, and Terra Medi tantalized guests with their mouthwatering olives, cheese, grape leaves, flatbread, and flaky phyllo desserts.

Honoree Ernie Anastos with friends at the Hermes Awards Dinner

Angelo Valavanis, the regional manager of Grecian Delight/Kronos Foods, highlighted the company’s extensive presence in the tri-state region and its ability to tailor products to meet the unique preferences of different retailers.  While customers might recognize its Opaa! line of gyros, gyro kits, tzatziki, feta, and other products, they may be surprised to learn the company manufactures similar items for retailers like Costco.

Mediterranean Restaurant Equipment (MRE) showcased their kitchen outfitting expertise, while Fresh&co impressed with their healthy and creative meal options prepared in collaboration with local farmers.

“We are a family business, and this is our first time at the expo,” said MRE owner George Kallas. “Being here gives us new ideas about the state of the industry.”

Honoree Steve Tenedios visiting the Hermes Expo with his family

Fresh&co and its franchise system are two of the New York City restaurant concepts owned and operated by Steve Tenedios, founder and CEO of S.T. Management Group and one of the evening’s honorees. The fast casual restaurant pairs with local farmers to prepare creative and healthy meals emphasizing local seasonal fruits and veggies. STMG is also the managing partner of NYC’s Kyma Restaurants for those seeking the ambiance of a stylish Greek taverna.  “I’ve known Paul (Kotrotsios) for years and am glad to be here,” said Tenedios. “The exposure for businesses at the expo is excellent and it’s also good to see old friends.”

The event also featured a variety of beverages, including alcoholic options from Fantis Foods, Ktima Anagenesis, and non-alcoholic choices from Gia…giamas and Hydra.

Steve Foustanellas showcasing his new product for the first time at the Hermes Expo

First-time exhibitor Steve Foustanellas, of Gia…giamas, served numerous glasses of all-natural lemonade, strawberry lemonade, green apple pomegranate, peach, and pandasia juice. Some visitors were so taken by the taste of the homemade refreshment they purchased bottles of puree for future use, which can also be mixed with alcohol to enjoy on a hot summer day.  “Cheers to us,” he said. “We are just entering this market and some of our flavors, like green apple pomegranate, are a new taste for Americans.”

Returning to the expo for the second year in a row, Louis Skenderis, of Hydra, touted the benefits of his product. Drawn from springs in an ancient mountain range on the Greek island of Crete, the spring water is naturally filtered, has a pH of 8, and is bottled in high-quality plastic containers. “I met my business partner at last year’s Hermes Expo,” shared Louis.

Fantis Imports exhibiting for the first time showcasing fine Greek wines

Visitors were captivated by Gia…giamas’ all-natural lemonade flavors and Hydra’s premium spring water sourced from the ancient mountains of Crete.

The non-edible samples were equally enticing. Visitors stuffed complimentary bags with brochures, pens, notebooks, sticky pads, candy, bottled water, and of course, business cards, from finance (CGV Solutions, CORPAY Global Payments, Linqqs, Soft Touch POS), energy (Brilliant Solar, Green Crown Energy), legal (Markou Global Legal Group), insurance (The Ariston Insurance Inc.), realty (All Area Realty Services), healthcare (Veronis Health), travel and leisure (Celestyal Cruises, Lifetyme Photography), skin care (Sea Minerals, VIP International), media (Hellenic News of America), printing (B&L Printing Company, Inc.), foundations (The Susanna Iacovelli Charitable Foundation, Greek Children’s Fund) and municipal (Mayor’s Office of Economic Development Old Bridge, NJ; East Brunswick, NJ Middlesex, NJ and Queens, NY chambers of commerce).


The event attracted hundreds of attendees who explored booths and took the opportunity to engage directly with exhibitors eager to share their offerings, innovations and expertise.  For single proprietors, the one-on-one conversations proved particularly beneficial.

Maria Markou speaking with Mike Pappas at her booth

Maria Markou, an attorney specializing in international, business, corporate, and immigration law, valued the chance to connect with other professionals and explore potential opportunities.

VIP International, a distributor of premium skincare products, seized the opportunity to captivate a broader Greek-American audience with their exquisite range of Greek-imported skincare products. Among their notable offerings, they recently launched the highly acclaimed eye wrinkle-reducing serum under their esteemed brand, EUPHORIE Cosmetics, now conveniently available for purchase on Amazon.

Insurance broker Marcia Myers and insurance salesperson Sunny Rubin relished the chance to make new connections and expand their networks. They recognized the value of building relationships in the people-oriented insurance industry.

Sponsor Celestyal Cruises displaying its wonderful trips in Greece and the Mediterranean

Steve Kontos, owner of Kontos Foods and one of the evening’s honorees, expressed his gratitude to everyone involved and praised Paul Kotrotsios for his leadership and dedication to the Greek business community.  “We have been participating in the expo since the beginning, and we will continue to do so. Paul is a connector and a leader in the Greek community, helping Greek business owners with their future development.”

As the afternoon transformed into evening, the Hermes Expo Awards dinner began with a lavish cocktail hour followed by a sit-down meal and Greek dancing accompanied by the Stavros Theodorou Orchestra. The evening celebrated the outstanding contributions of honorees such as Ernie Anastos, George Dangas, Fotis Farmakis, Aggeliki Hionis, Elias Iliadis, Steve and Nancy Kontos, Nikolai Y. Markov, Sam Matthews, George Siamboulis, Jenny Tsantilas, and Steve Tenedios. These individuals were recognized for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments, and dedication to the Greek-American and Philhellenic communities.

Sponsor Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods displaying its delicious line of products

Emceed by James Polos, the awards dinner welcomed keynote speaker Phil Kafarakis, President and CEO of the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association. Kafarakis provided insightful perspectives on the future of the food industry, which has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. He highlighted the changes brought about by the pandemic, such as the rise of take-out, delivery, and meal kit options, as well as the increasing foodservice offerings in convenience stores.

Watch here John Catsimatidis’s video message 

The enchanting evening concluded with a heartfelt video message from billionaire John Catsimatidis. He expressed his heartfelt congratulations to Paul Kotrotsios for his outstanding contributions to the Hellenic community. From humble beginnings, Paul has built this expo into a remarkable event, fostering commerce for Greece and all the participating companies of the Hermes Expo. John also extended his congratulations to Ernie Anastos for receiving well-deserved recognition and returning to WABC. Ernie’s exceptional career at WABC, coupled with his unwavering dedication to the community, has made him a cherished figure among Greek Americans.

Honorees of the 32nd Annual Hermes Expo Awards Dinner: Ernie Anastos, Emmy TV News Anchor, WABC, Steve & Nancy Kontos, Proprietors, Kontos Foods, Sam Matthews, Esq., President, Greek Children’s Fund, Jenny Tsantilas, M.Ed., CEO, Superior Schools Corp, Steve Tenedios, CEO, ST Management, Nikolai Y. Markov, DO, General Surgery, Hackensack Meridian Health, George Dangas, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Director of Cardiovascular Innovation, Mount Sinai, Elias Iliadis, M.D., Cardiologist, Cooper Heart Institute, Fotis Farmakis, Restauranteur, Riverwinds Restaurant, and George Siamboulis, Past President, Pan Gregorian Enterprises

In a resounding surge of success, the Hermes Expo and Awards Dinner transcended expectations, leaving exhibitors, sponsors, and honorees empowered by the invaluable platform it provided. As vibrant threads of entrepreneurship, heritage, and unity wove through the event, it became a powerful celebration of the Greek-American community’s indomitable spirit. With hearts brimming with pride, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose, fortified connections, and a shared vision of a brighter future.


The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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