George Diakomichalis, South Australia’s favourite pastry chef from the multi-awarded cafe-bakery Kalymnos Pastries has hit national TV screens with his cooking series ‘It’s All Greek to Me’.
Diakomichalis’ show first started on YouTube and was picked up by the Australian broadcaster Nine and premiered last month.
The first episode features Diakomichalis’ lifelong friend Niko and his mum Georgia Mavragelos.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos the chef teased that there will be many traditional Greek recipes showcased as well as episodes bringing together different cultures sharing Australian soil.
“You will be amused; you will laugh, and you may cry. You’re going to learn a couple of mouth-watering recipes that you need to make at home!” Diakomichalis said.
It’s Greek to Me is something that was started many years ago. Through doing it I got exposed to organising and executing different cooking segments. I got asked to do different cooking things and bits and pieces on different shows both here in the state in South Australia and also nationally and I got a taste of being able to share what I love which is, for me, an absolute honour.”
THE STORIES THAT NEED TO BE TOLD
Further on, George introduces his parents Nick and Poppy, who left Greece to build a life in Australia nearly fifty years ago. They tell their story of their life, raising George and his siblings, their traditions and cook some traditional Greek dishes to share with family and friends.
In another episode he teams up with actor/comedian George Kapiniaris, from Acropolis Now fame, to cook up a Greek classic – with an Aussie twist! Blending both food and culture, George shares tales of Greeks migrating to Australia – all infused with heart-warming stories and cooking wisdom from George’s Kapiniaris’ own mother.
For the man behind SA’s most loved pastry shop, being able to share the flavours and the values that make Greeks but also any ethnic group proud of their heritage is precious.
“I love sharing what traditions the generations behind us have given us; to honour our ancestors, our parents, our grandparents. Some of them are still around but many have passed,” he tells Neos Kosmos. “I love connecting with other cultures through food and sharing and exchanging heart-felt dishes. Communicating with a ritual so essential to all of us but also deeply sacred.”
For Diakomichalis, preserving cultural identity through the culinary arts is paramount for keeping the connection with current and future generations. Through recipes that were passed down and recipes that were created as a mix of a “tastes from the motherland” meeting the “new homeland”, Australia can also honour its unique stories of immigration.
“The next generation will benefit because food is one of the most rewarding forms of art, it is a love language. Just as important as the food is, the stories some of migration and people’s family histories, how they’ve gotten where they’ve gotten… The unique thing we have here in Australia is that we have so many different cultures that come together and live as proud Australians while keeping their identity.”
The online series broadcasted on Channel Nine now is an extension, a re-edition of Diakomichalis’ YouTube series, of episodes he filmed himself as personal body of work.
“I am really happy, even though It’s All Greek to Me was getting exposure, that it’s airing on national television in Queensland, Perth, Perth, Darwin, Tasmania here in South Australia.”
“It has been an interesting process to see how things work for a TV production. The episodes are 21 minutes but for one episode we might film for hours and edit things down and rejig or blend shorted old YouTube episodes together and add sections, rewrite parts to make it consistent.”
WE ARE MORE SIMILAR THAN DIFFERENT
For the Kalymnos Pastries chef, It’s All Greek to Me is meant to help people understand something seemingly foreign and connect with it. As he spoke to Neos Kosmos he explained that using the phrase actually stems from a direct translation of a similar phrase in Latin: Graecum est; non potest legi (“it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read”).
A saying that became widely popular after being used as a metaphor in 1599, in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, as spoken by Servilius Casca to Cassius.
“That’s why we named it It’s All Greek to Me back in the day. It goes both ways but it’s rooted in sharing what seemingly differs through a process of coming together on this land, recognising its original custodians and giving thanks.
“The plan is to bring different cultures together. One episode features Daniel Motlop who is an Indigenous, Larrakia NFL player and we go through his family story on the show… We do smoked barramundi in paper bark. It’s honestly so good! Then, towards the end of it we talked about how the crossing of cultures and how keeping traditions alive is paramount.”
This episode honours the many connections between early Greek migrants and First Nations Peoples.
One of Diakomichalis’ favourite episodes features Lindani Berman, the co-director of Cirque Africa, with whom he cooked and shared recipes and stories of immigration while traditional African performers danced around the food preparations as they would for a ritual. With every guest there are things in common.
“These stories are too important to lose, and along with the stories and the sacrifices that people made, all the opportunities and the successes that we have continued to enjoy is a result of the hard work those that came before us put in.”
“The fact that It’s All Greek to Me has been recognised by the mainstream media as far as commercial TV is concerned is actually incredible.”
Recognition for Diakomichalis is not a new thing. Through Kalymnos Pastries which has been getting award after award for years now, he has managed to build a name for himself and his family, as well as for his homeland as a proud member of the Greek Australian and wider SA community.
“I’ve had the shop here for 28 years now, it’s very well recognised in what we do. We’re very consistent. We represent former generations of my family’s traditions. Everything is done with love and our customers know that, they know us, they know the sweet Greek flavours by name. They know I am a proud Kalymnos Greek but they also know I am an Australian!”
One of Diakomichalis’ goals for 2023, especially after nearly three years of restrictions is to travel around Australia and take part in a Greek festival in Victoria.
“I am very excited to both film for It’s All Greek to Me in other states and meet with people who have a good reputation or something to say on a national level, but my biggest dream, a burning desire is to come and cook, do a demonstration at a Greek festival in Melbourne. It’s the largest Greek Community and it’s the only one I haven’t yet visited as part of a festival. You could say it’s a burning desire. I’m ready to come bring all the sweetness of Kalymnos to Melbourne and exchange stories over food!”
Watch It’s All Greek to Me on Channel 9 online here: www.9now.com.au/its-all-greek-to-me