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Living and working in paradise

According to Greek mythology, the mountain Pelion, situated at the south-eastern part of Thessaly in central Greece, is the homeland of the legendary centaurs and the site chosen by the ancient gods for their weddings and celebrations. Today, with a vast sandy beach and warm blue water, the area is still a natural paradise.

It was here that Chroni Papageli and his business partner Aris Kalantzopoulos opened their bar and restaurant ‘Climax’ almost 17 years ago. While the restaurant welcomes mostly locals throughout the year, in the summer season it is very popular with tourists coming from countries like Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

Chroni recruits from all over Europe: “We especially recruit international staff from across Europe to better serve our international customers. But this is not the only reason – what is interesting about our international employees is that everybody is different. We can learn so much from each other simply by working together.

“We do not pay that much attention to somebody’s nationality as we recruit them. What is more important to us is that our staff members already have previous international experience and that they are motivated to learn more about the Greek cuisine. Depending on their skills and experience, we then offer them work as bartenders, waiters or kitchen assistants.”

One such kitchen assistant who worked with Climax in the summer of 2008 was Finnish student Senni Avikainen. The fact that Senni did not speak Greek and that she had only little experience in the hostelling sector did not matter much – since all new staff are fully trained and almost everybody in the restaurant speaks English, what matters more to Chroni is the applicants’ willingness to learn. “The work at Climax has become more and more interesting because I have gradually gained more responsibility. I have been learning how to make all the different dishes they serve at the restaurant and it’s been great to see how a real restaurant kitchen works,” says Senni.

For his recruitment process, Chroni has for the past decade relied on the support of his local EURES Adviser Maria Antoniou. “I don’t even remember how I first got in touch with Maria, since we have been working together for such a long time. What I know is that we are very, very satisfied with her help. She knows our restaurant very well and she knows exactly what we look for when we recruit people. Whenever she spots an interesting CV, she gets in touch with us immediately and we take care of the interview.”

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