Cephalonia: The Indomitable

The island of Cephalonia (also known as Kefalonia), the largest of the Ionian islands, was recently rocked by an earthquake that was nearly a 6 on the Richter magnitude scale.  A few days prior to the earthquake, a fireball (or, meteorite depending on who you ask) fell between Cephalonia and neighboring Zante island lighting the shoreline of the latter as it slowly descended into the depths of the surrounding sea.

When I learned the news, I, a once-upon-a-time denizen, immediately called friends to find out what the situation was on the ground.  Since the epicenter was close to Lixouri, most of the damage (to a nearby road and older buildings built before anti-seismic regulations came into force) was concentrated near said town, across the bay from Argostoli, Cephalonia’s capital city.


Cephalonians are used to earthquakes.    The Focas-Cosmetatos museum featured an exhibit called “1953:  The Earthquake.”  The earthquake of ’53 was a devastating, natural disaster that caused a tsunami, resulted in many casualties, and brought the International Red Cross.  It was an event that caused many to lose everything they had with the consequence of a mass exodus.

Luckily, the latest earthquake resulted in zero casualties with only a few, minor injuries thanks to the fact that every new construction must, by law, adhere to strict, anti-seismic building codes.

Europe will fund repairs.  The buildings will be fixed and road damaged repaired.  Life will go on.

Cephalonia:  The Indomitable

Cephalonia was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the top ten places to live in Europe. 1  Although it has experienced its fair share of natural disasters and foreign conquests (the pirates from time immemorial; the Venetians from circa 1500; and the Axis powers during WWII), this incredibly beautiful island continues to be a highly sought after tourist destination.

Absolute musts to see:  Myrtos beach, Fiskardo, Assos, Kipuria Monastery, Melissani Cave, and Mt. Aenos.


“Makis, a KTM Adventure”

Cheap flights to Cephalonia


1 Cephalonia is one of the top 10 places to live in Europe

Undercover: Tina Lee at Work

I watched an episode on the “W Network” concerning T & T Supermarket, Canada’s largest Asian supermarket, in which Tina Lee, T & T’s Strategy & Operations Executive Director, goes undercover in order to find out what’s really happening on the “front lines” where customers interact with employees. Tina rationalized that many dynasties in China fell when the leadership lost touch with the people. She wanted, therefore, to bypass middle management and see what was actually happening with her own eyes.

Tina became nearly unrecognizable with her short-haired wig, large glasses and over sized, red worker’s cap placed slightly ajar on her head. None of the employees she engaged with could ever have imagined that “Linda” was, in fact, their boss.

It was precisely through her disguise and the casual and candid conversations she had with her employees that Tina was able to gather information she would otherwise never have obtained. She was able to see for herself how managers trained employees, how they interacted with customers, what skill level they possessed, and what improvements were necessary to make the business run more efficiently.

Get your hands dirty

Tina is remarkable because she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.  She hardly flinched when handling live lobsters, bravely cut a wide variety of meat products, and even made a cake from scratch. She was working, learning, and communicating nonstop with her ears wide open.

Communications genius

Tina has a knack for connecting with people. She has “the touch.” While humbling herself and revealing certain weaknesses (like making mistakes), Tina was able to obtain her employees’ trust with humor.

Generosity counts

I was very impressed when, at the end of the episode, Tina calls her staff to her office and reveals the truth to them. She rewards her employees for their hard work and her generosity toward them is both commendable as well as business smart. Her employees’ fidelity will, most likely, be reinforced; turnover will be stopped in its tracks; production will increase; and customer satisfaction will grow.

In the “telephone game,” information that is whispered in the first person’s ear tends to become distorted when spoken out loud by the last person in the chain. In a similar fashion, executives who follow in Tina’s footsteps will be surprised by what they see and gain deep insight into the business they run.

Tina Lee Undercover

Image title:  Tina Lee Undercover

Image source:  http://www.wnetwork.com

The Grace and Andrew Masa Breakfast

Whether you’re new in town or an old pro, the best breakfast place in Toronto is surely Grace and Andrew’s at the Masa Restaurant adjacent to the Comfort Hotel, Downtown, 15 Charles Street East.

‘Good Morning!’ booms Andrew’s voice as I walk inside.  ‘How are you today?’ comes the genuine question.  Andrew, born in England with a Grenadian background, has a passion for cooking that he cultivated from his youth becoming a chef.  He’s lived in Toronto for thirty years.

‘How are you, Luba?’ asks Grace as I sit down on a comfy chair at a smooth table with clean lines next to the elegant, wooden, hanging decoration lit by candle-like lamps.

Grace, born in Toronto, is steeped in the tradition of restaurateurs.  Her father, the late, reputed Danny Mangos, owned many restaurants and raised Grace from her youth to understand and appreciate the art of running a restaurant.  Once a manager at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Grace, an accomplished chef, is specialized in organizing buffets and banquets.

Aside from Grace and Andrew’s unique, warm welcome and genuine hospitality, they offer a wide selection of excellent breakfast choices.  The Continental Breakfast comes with: Croissant, Toast, Orange Juice/Apple Juice and Milk, $6.99; The Full American Breakfast offers: Bacon, Ham, or Sausage, 2 Eggs (any style), and Home-Style Potatoes (note that these are Andrew’s and that he developed their perfect, golden, crispy exterior and spicy flavor) with a choice of Muffin, Danish, Croissant, and Toast, $10.99; Eggs Benedict; Eggs Florentine; Omelets; Pancakes or French Toast; and numerous side orders.

Don’t stay out in the cold.  Brrrrrrrrrrr!  Come to Grace and Andrew’s for a healthy and wholesome breakfast with a big-hearted welcome.  You can safely expect future developments from these two, fine chefs.  Stay tuned.

Masa Restaurant

Image title:  The Masa Restaurant

Photographer:  Luba Rascheff