Greek Australians Penny Kerasiotis and Dezi Madafferis, the winners of Plate of Origin, are overwhelmed with all the wonderful messages and love they are receiving from so many in the Greek community of Australia.
Reliving their wonderful adventure on Plate of Origin they enjoyed sharing their experience with their families, who up until the very end had no idea that they had actually won the first prize.
“You don’t get to give many good surprises in life and I just wanted to see their faces when they saw us win. The look on their faces was priceless. Their happiness, my daughters were crying tears of joy. It was so beautiful and really special. I only wish we could have watched it together with Penny,” Dezi told Neos Kosmos one week after the amazing win of Team Greece.
The support from the Greek community has been wonderful. “Such kind words and such genuine love for us. It is the Greek way. Especially in Melbourne, with everyone in lockdown, they say it gave them something to look forward to,” Dezi explains, adding that their win has stirred interest even in Greece as they have had requests for interviews with the Greek media.
“The elder generation especially is very proud that we stuck to our roots and cooked everything in the traditional way, without changing anything,” Penny told Neos Kosmos. “My theory is why change something that works? We can make it fancy but I’m not changing my yiayia’s recipe!”
“The biggest challenge for us during the competition was the portions. You know, as Greeks we love to make big portions so no one goes hungry!” Dezi laughed.
This whole experience was like a dream come true for the two Greek Australians.
The competition and filming of Plate of Origin lasted six weeks. Throughout that time, the ten competing teams stayed together in an apartment complex. “It was fun. It was a great experience that we all shared together and bonded through it. And a few good friendships were formed,” Penny said.
The 10 teams even keep in touch through a group chat. “We really connected with Team Italy, Team Lebanon and Team Cameroon, and also got on with the Venezuelan and Vietnamese teams.”
“We all supported each other. We were there because we all loved food. We experienced new cuisines. I have never eaten Cameroon food before. We got to know their culture, their food,” Dezi said.
The competition took place as the pandemic hit Australia and there was nothing on the supermarket shelves. So the teams shared anything they could find.
“At that time it was very hard to find flour, yeast and sugar, so we shared with each other whatever we could get our hands on. And I think that was the nicest thing about the show. That everyone supported each other no matter what,” Dezi said.
Though the food and deserts they prepared looked absolutely delicious, for those of us watching the show, what stood out, was what a great team the two of them made. Even when things didn’t go as planned, and there was a crisis, they would just pick up and try again.
“My theory is, if you stuff up something, you cry for a minute and then just get back up and move on. That’s what I want to teach my kids. You fall but you need to get right back up,” Penny said.
“We get along so well too,” Dezi added. “We have a good laugh. We are on the same page and we can read each other. There were times when we would just look at each other and know what each of us was thinking. It just worked. The funny thing is that we have never cooked together, but that didn’t worry us.
We were confident because it is food we have cooked all our lives.”
The other teams were practicing during the spare time, and stressed, but funnily the Greek Team says that they didn’t feel anxious. “It was a weird feeling. We were nervous but also very confident. We knew we would give it our best shot. We had lots of laughs, we wished everyone good luck and supported each other.”
The next chapter
Winning the gold in Plate of Origin was only the first chapter of new beginnings for Penny and Dezi. As soon as restrictions are eased in Melbourne, they will be holding cooking classes together, as many people have shown an interest in how their dishes are done.
All the recipes from the show can be found on channel 7’s website.
“It’s been wonderful because many have tried doing our recipes and are messaging us on how their dishes have turned out,” Penny tells us.
The next step is launching their own lines into the Australian market. Penny, along with an expansion to her cake shop Miss Penny Cakes, has started doing cake mixes for Greek cakes, as there are none in the market. “I thought why not make it easy for everyone to make kourabiedes for example.” These cakes mixes can be found in her shop Miss Penny Cakes in West Brunswick, but can also be ordered online, at www.misspennycakes.com.au
Dezi, on the other hand, has launched a range of seasoning mixes that will add gusto to your souvlaki, lamb and chicken. It is doing extremely well and she is hoping to launch two more seasoning mixes in the new year. You can order her seasonings online, at www.dezicooks.com.au.
We wish them all the best as they embark on new beginnings.