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'Xenitia brought us closer as a family'

Newly arrived mother and son have brought the sweetest taste of Greece to Australia

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Sotiris and Eleni. Photos: Supplied

13 December 2017

Seven years ago, Eleni Nikoloudi and Panagiotis Tsompanoudis decided to leave their successful businesses in Serres and migrate to Australia to secure a better future for their two adult children, Sotiris and Anna.

"Leaving Greece and migrating to Australia was not a decision we made lightly," says 48-year-old Eleni told Neos Kosmos.

The mother of two owned a bookshop in Skoutari, which is a small town in Serres with a population of 3,500 residents, while her husband ran a carpentry business.

"It was all going relatively well for us but from the moment the global financial crisis hit Greece we realised that the opportunities, especially for the younger generation, and in particular for our own children, were becoming limited."

Family patriarch Panagiotis was born in Australia after his parents Antonis and Olga immigrated and lived in Australia between 1965 and 1969.

"My husband was born in Australia but his parents moved back [to Greece] a few months after he was born to care for their own ageing parents. Although Panagiotis is an Australian citizen, he never really had the opportunity to get acquainted with his country of birth. Nevertheless, he would occasionally suggest that we look into migrating and exploring our options in Australia. Something I wasn't ready to do at the time.
"Moving all the way to the other side of the world is a huge undertaking that required all of us to commit to this together as a family. Upon reflection, and having visited Greece twice in the past seven years, we are all very pleased with the way things have turned out and at times I regret not having moved here earlier," says Eleni who in the same breath admits that the move hasn't necessarily been an easy transition for her family.

"Our first few years in Australia were challenging, but we have all worked extremely hard and we are very happy with how things are currently working out in Australia," says Eleni who, together with Sotiris, set up a business in Adelaide supplying authentic Greek traditional desserts, using Eleni's family recipes from northern Greece, that have been handed down over generations.

"We actually named our business Mama's GREEK Delights because in every language the word mama instills feelings of comfort and nostalgia and highlights tradition and quality, which is what we are all about.
"We take pride in the ingredients we use to make our delicious handmade Greek desserts such as baklava, galaktoboureko (custard filo pie), karidopita (walnut syrup cake), melomakarona and kourabiethes. We have also started introducing new flavours and experimenting with desserts such as trigona panoramatos, ekmek kataifi and Greek profiterole," says Sotiris who during the day works in civil construction.

"I love my work, but I also enjoy spending time in the kitchen baking and helping my mother, even though she was initially reluctant to start this business with me," says Sotiris.

Elani adds, "We are a close-knit family and I didn't want our work to have a negative effect on our relationship, but I must admit that moving to Australia and working together as a team has actually brought us even closer as a family unit."

With Christmas approaching, the dynamic duo are already gearing up to offer their customers a real taste of Greece.

"We hope to open our first shop in Adelaide soon," said Sotiris.

"We are on a mission to provide our customers with high quality delicious desserts bringing the real authentic taste of Greece to xenitia."

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