As Australia’s leading fillo pastry producers for food service, delicatessens and supermarkets, the Antoniou family has built a dynasty on fillo and kataifi pastry.
And as the preferred supplier of 100 per cent Australian wheat ingredients to create Antoniou’s pastry products for the world, Manildra Group shares their commitment to Australian family business.
It was 1960 when Chris and Marina Antoniou, after emigrating from Cyprus, started making fillo pastry by hand in a small space next to their tailor shop in the Sydney suburb of Glebe. Word spread quickly as people turned to fillo pastry for their home-cooking recipes, with a handful of Greek delis and cake shops selling the first pre-packaged fillo pastry in Australia at the time.
In 1969, Chris and Marina decided to focus solely on the fillo pastry business and opened a small factory nearby at St Peters.
After Chris went to the United States with $2500 in his pocket, he came back with a handshake agreement to import Australia’s first fillo pastry machine.
Making fillo by hand is a true labour of love, and Marina cried tears of joy on realising the machine could replicate in just 1.5 hours what 18 people were making in a 12-hour day.
“We pride ourselves on being a family-owned and operated business for almost 60 years now, and we endeavour to carry this through all aspects of our business – including the ingredients we source to manufacture our products,” said Antoniou’s principal, Tony Antoniou. “Using Australian-grown and made ingredients is our number one priority – to ensure we get the best quality ingredients and support local business.”
Today, Antoniou’s state-of-the-art, purpose-built factory in Moorebank has custom-built fillo machines as well as a specialised kataifi machine, and employs more than 40 people.
Antoniou’s business continues to be backed by strong family values, with company principals Con Papadopoulos, Nick Apostoles and Tony Antoniou leading the team alongside the third generation, Tim Papadopoulos and Christine Apostoles, in charge of growth at home and globally.
“We’ve witnessed fillo pastry evolve beyond the traditional uses in European and Middle Eastern dishes such as baklava or spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie),” said Marketing Director Christine Apostoles.
“Today, we’re seeing boundaries pushed with fillo in cuisines such as Indian, Chinese and Japanese. With this growth, the focus for the future of the business is propelling our products into both local and overseas markets, and continuing to educate consumers and the industry about the cooking possibilities with fillo and kataifi pastry.
“With the trend in Australia towards healthy conscious eating, we are seeing growth opportunities for more considered food choices. This has positioned fillo as a more favourable healthy pastry alternative because unlike other pastries, it doesn’t contain any butter, making fillo a considerably low-fat product.”
Mr Antoniou said consistency was crucial in the production process for both fillo and kataifi pastry – with the slightest variation in climate or ingredient quality creating significant problems with the finished product.
“We know we are getting consistent quality from Manildra, giving us confidence in our production capability and the ability to deliver the best-quality fillo and kataifi pastry products to our customers,” he said. “Our relationship with Manildra is based on a deep understanding and trust between both businesses, ensuring only the very best pastry products leave our factory.”
Manildra Group NSW and New Zealand Sales Manager Barry Bance said Australian-made ingredients such as flour, wheat starch and maize starch were key to the production of Antoniou’s premium pastry products, loved from family kitchens to world markets.
“We have an in-depth knowledge of the intricate and delicate pastry production process, which enables Manildra and Antoniou to work collaboratively,” said Mr Bance. “It’s great to work with like-minded Australian family businesses and we’re proud of the relationship we’ve built with the Antoniou team – we’re like family!”
Thirty years ago, Antoniou started exporting their frozen pastry products, with considerable growth in the South East Asian foodservice market in recent times. While fillo and kataifi pastry are becoming mainstream products, consumers keep pushing the boundaries with pastry.
Miss Apostoles said that TV cooking shows had helped increase demand and made an overall positive impact on consumer confidence in the kitchen by educating and encouraging experimentation with products that people might otherwise not have used.
“Even though our father Chris isn’t here to see our legacy, our mother Marina keeps everyone busy with ideas for recipes – including her coveted galatoboureko (custard pie),” said Mr Antoniou.
“As a family, we’ll continue to tell and share the incredible story of the Antoniou business with the same ethos of generosity, high quality and hard work instilled in everything we do.”