St. Augustine is rich with diverse culture stemming heavily from the Mediterranean. While much of local history revolves around the Minorcans, the Greeks actually arrived on the shores of the First Coast at the same time.
Dr. Andrew Turnbull brought shiploads of workers from Greece, Italy and Minorca into the port of St. Augustine in June 1768. He brought them over as workers for his newly acquired plantation in New Smyrna promising them a life filled with opportunity, peace, freedom and of course, orange groves.
What seemed to be too good to be true, was just that. After years of unfulfilled promises (except for the orange groves), frustrations led most of the workers to leave New Symrna in 1777 and relocate to St. Augustine where they began a new life once again.
Fast forward to 2001, and Bill Lulias, a second generation American of Greek heritage, found himself relocated to the area for work and has cultivated his own Greek roots in the nation’s oldest city. He has married his family’s legacy with St. Augustine history through Florida Greek Guy Seasonings.
Bill Lulias, the Florida Greek Guy, has been committed to creating unique flavors through his seasoning blends for 30 years. Growing up in a Greek family, he says you did one thing. “You worked at your father’s restaurant, your grandfather’s restaurant or helped out with your uncle’s restaurant,” he explained. “As a child, I spent many days watching my Yiayia cooking in the kitchen, making phyllo dough from scratch, picking wild greens from the garden and making spanakopita. Every day of my childhood was a Greek cuisine adventure.”
Lulias began creating his own seasoning blends while working in his father’s restaurant. His father used a blend that contained MSG and fillers, and Lulias thought, “We can do better than that.” And so, the All Purpose Blend was born. The seasonings were used with great success in the family restaurants as well as Lulias’ own.
Originally, he developed his blends with a Greek flair, but Lulias quickly realized that his seasonings enhanced traditional dishes. So he began creating blends that have a wide reach to complement all types of protein as well as vegetables.
Lulias continually expands his product lines and many of his seasonings have been created with the First Coast and the popularity of seafood dishes front of mind, such as his Greek Fish Blend, Greek Island Blackened Fish Blend and Taste of Florida (there’s simply no denying the orange groves regardless of the century).
But the Florida Greek Guy is about much more than creating flavorful and unique seasonings – it’s about creating an experience and bringing people together. Lulias said, “My hope is that more people will start to eat at home as families again, cook together and explore different flavors.”
Lulias is also a firm believer that “Medicine is not healthcare. Food is healthcare. Medicine is sick care.” He said it’s time we see it for what it is.
Photo Credit Luna Blu Photography by Tammy Harrow.