We do one thing, and we do it well.
That’s The antoniou difference.
When Chris and Marina Antoniou began making fillo pastry in 1960, it was a true labour of love. Like a lot of immigrant families at the time, they dreamt of building a secure future for their young family. They had run a successful tailoring business in Glebe, in Sydney’s inner west – but they wanted to make the best life possible in their new home country.
So when an opportunity arose to supply Sydney’s two Greek cake shops with fillo pastry, Chris and Marina used the small space next door to their tailor shop to start making fillo by hand. Chris had learned this intricate process soon after emigrating from Cyprus to Sydney in 1952, while working a second job in a cake shop to save money for a home. It was a laborious process, often taking 12 hours or more, but a quality product was always the first priority for Chris and Marina.
Word quickly spread. Consumers now sought fillo pastry for their home-cooked recipes, and a handful of Greek delis and cake shops began selling the first pre-packaged fillo pastry in Australia. And so this marked the beginning of the Antoniou brand in the retail market.
In 1969, they took a huge risk and made the big decision to focus solely on the fillo pastry business – and opened a small factory in St Peters where family members were roped in to help. It wasn’t long before Chris realised he’d need to invest in one of the new specialty machines he’d heard about to keep up with demand.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO HOME-GROWN SUCCESS.
Chris went to the US with $2,500 in his pocket, and came back with a handshake agreement to import Australia’s first fillo-making machine.
When Marina realised it could make in an hour and a half what 18 people were making in a 12-hour day, she cried tears of joy. Meeting customer demand had come at a cost: long hours away from their families.
Today, our purpose-built factory in Moorebank has custom-built fillo machines, as well as a specialised Kataifi machine. We are now Australia’s leading producers of fillo pastry, kataifi pastry and fillo pastry products for food service, delicatessens and supermarkets around Australia – and we also export to a number of Asian countries.
But it’s still very much a family affair. The children who once helped mum and dad make fillo by hand and the grandchildren who helped weigh and pack the pastry every school holidays are now making sure Antoniou Fillo remains of the highest quality.
Even though Chris is no longer here to see his legacy, Marina keeps everyone busy with ideas for recipes – including her coveted galatoboureko. And his son, sons-in-law and grandchildren are now running the business, alongside staff who have been with Antoniou for decades – ensuring Chris’ values of generosity, quality and hands on hard work will see them through the next 60 years.
Watch Chris Antoniou make paper-thin fillo pastry by hand in this TV clip.
The most important point when using fillo pastry, either fresh or frozen, is that it is allowed to thaw completely before you open the plastic bag in which it is sealed. If you try to unroll the pastry flat whist it still has any “chill” left in it, will make the pastry brittle and prone to cracking and breaking. The pastry when allowed to thaw should be soft and pliable.
It is very important to allow our kataifi pastry to thaw completely before opening the packet. Once it is completely thawed it will also become soft and pliable. The kataifi will be in a “ball” when it is removed from the packet and should be pulled apart, separated and “fluffed up”. This can be done by pulling the strands apart. Do not be scared to be quite vigorous when doing this as it will lead to better results.