31 January 2022

Sprouting a Healthy and Empowering Food Empire

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sprout Food Group,Themis Chryssidis, in the kitchen

Themis Chryssidis

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sprout Food Group
Bachelor of Psychology

With his psychology degree providing a unique perspective and shaping the way he approaches clients and consults in the food and nutrition industry, Themis Chryssidis has made a name for himself as the co-founder and managing director of the Sprout Food Group.

Since Sprout’s establishment, in which he founded with MasterChef’s Callum Hann, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, expanding to encompass more than cooking classes as well. Today Sprout is not only home to Sprout Cooking School, but also Sprout Health Studio, a one on one nutrition consulting service, Sprout Catering, a professional food service offering fresh, seasonal and delicious food options for all occasions and Sprout Training, a registered training organisation established to educate the food industry around the correct management of dietary requirements.

Themis is not one to rest of his laurels either, also spearheading Dietary Hawk, Australia’s leading Dietary Requirement education organisation, publishing healthy cookbooks as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, even launching a major restaurant during a pandemic.

As an innately an entrepreneurial risktaker, Themis is always exploring other opportunities, and with business partner Callum, has also ventured into the restaurant business with Lou’s Place in the Barossa Valley and the new sophisticated CBD hotspot, eleven.

Here, Themis gives us a fascinating insight into his busy schedule, journey to success and how he’s made the most of professional opportunities and a fascinating career path.

Themis Chryssidis with business partner Callum
Themis Chryssidis giving a cooking demonstration with business partner Callum Hann at Sprout Cooking School & Health Studio. Source.

Could you tell us a little bit about the Sprout Food Group – and all the companies under its umbrella – and the journey that led you to establishing them? Did you always have plans to start your own business?

I have always loved business. I grew up surrounded by family business and an incredibly hard-working father and mother. During high school I was always looking in the classifieds for businesses I could buy, and I always spoke about the businesses I wanted to build. There has always been a strong entrepreneurial streak in me. It’s what excites me and gets me out of bed.

Sprout was established in 2011 after I graduated as a dietitian and was born from a marriage between my passion for psychology and nutrition. Sprout was designed to empower individuals, change attitudes towards food and increase self-efficacy towards cooking, which is exactly what it has done! We supplemented the cooking school with individual nutrition consults which allowed me to follow my passion for nutrition counselling and from there our opportunities increased and our brand grew.

We started consulting in the area of food service and nutrition to businesses, government and schools, we were travelling the country doing public cooking demonstrations, we wrote a best-selling cookbook, Quick, Easy, Healthy, and have had so many other amazing experiences come our way.

People started asking us to cater their events and Sprout catering was born and from their out business has grown to now include Sprout Health Studio (our nutrition consulting branch), Sprout Training (a registered training organisation), Dietary Hawk (a certification trademark that organisations can use to promote their level of dietary requirement training, knowledge and practices to the general public), Lou’s Place (a Mediterranean restaurant in the Barossa Valley) and eleven restaurant and bar located in the Adelaide CBD.

People eating al fresco
Themis talking to diners at contemporary Adelaide CBD restaurant and bar eleven on Waymouth Street. Source.

Congrats on the recent launch of eleven! Could you also tell us a bit about this exciting new project? What made you want to expand into restaurants and hospitality with Lou’s Place as well?

Simply put, COVID. We had a number of major opportunities get derailed due to COVID. Life changing opportunities, but everything happens for a reason. Sprout mainly works in the area of events. Essentially, we plan, host, cater and help execute 300-400 small to medium sized events per year. COVID put an end to events. Restaurants were suffering, but events were being decimated.

Callum was on MasterChef so he would hopefully be able to provide a good promotional launch pad for the restaurants and I thought we could negotiate a good rental deal. By the time the restaurant was built I was hopeful the pandemic would be over… I was wrong about that, but events certainly have not returned to normal and the South Australian hospitality sector in the last 12 months has managed okay. So for us, this was not a temporary pivot, it was a major change in business plan, but one we are happy we made.

Patrons outdoor dining
Themis’ new hospitality ventures eleven restaurant and bar and Lou’s Place. Source.

These past couple years Dietary Hawk and the Sprout Cooking School have also been big projects for you. Why is it so important to educate and bridge the gap between the research and application of dietary requirements and food education?

Dietary Hawk and Sprout will forever be my passion projects. It’s great to be successful in business, but it is even better to be successful in business and have a positive impact on others at the same time. Good food and good health are important to me. Inspiring Australians to have fun and enjoy food and improve their health at the same time, and building a successful business with an amazing team of humans, that is satisfying.

Through Sprout Catering and our work with other hospitality businesses we really quickly realised that many food businesses know nothing about dietary requirement management (they think they do) and so many Australians with a dietary requirement are constantly disappointed and often run the anaphylaxis gauntlet. Being someone who loves food and the way it brings people together, it devastated me knowing that one in four Australians who have a dietary requirement constantly eat in fear and find eating out stressful. Dietary Hawk is for those people. Dietary Hawk will ensure that people with a dietary requirement will be able to eat with confidence.

You studied a Bachelor of Psychology at UniSA. Have your studies informed from your professional career at all? Do these teachings impact your current work?

My psychology degree absolutely shaped the way I consult as a dietitian, the way I think about business, the way I interact with my team, and the way I strategise. I never knew this and thought that my communication techniques, explanations and strategising was just common sense until several people pointed out to me that my psychology degree has certainly helped me!

People participating in the Sprout cooking classes
One of Sprout Cooking School & Health Studio’s classes in action. Source.

What would you say to anyone wanting to branch out on their own or embark on such a career? Have you experienced any challenges or have any advice managing the challenges you have faced?

I have a simple message for people wanting to start their own business. The only way you will be successful is by working hard, sacrificing, making a lot of mistakes, learning from each and every mistake, looking at successful people and trying to distil why they are successful, taking a risk, being comfortable with learning on the go and not having all the answers. Also you need an appreciation that success and balance are polar opposites, and to be at the top of your field you need dedication, not balance. You can still be healthy, but work and professional development will always take up most of your time.

Do you have any other projects, programs, events, achievements that stand out for you or you are particularly proud of over your career?

I am not a huge one for awards. I am a big believer that actions speak louder than words. I am fortunate to have received a few awards, but at the end of the day I want success for our business and our amazing team. I want our businesses to make a difference and have a positive impact in Australia. I don’t want people to know who I am, I want them to benefit from what we do.


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