‘Food is our love language’: Chef Anna Polyviou talks about her influential Greek Cypriot heritage

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Anna Polyviou. She’s the award-winning chef everyone remembers for her signature pink mohawk, quirky street style and infectious fun attitude.

But how did she get to where she is today?

In an interview with The Greek HeraldAnna explains how she was always inspired by her Greek Cypriot heritage from a young age.

“It’s funny because everyone is always like ‘how did you get into cooking?’ and it’s like, as a Greek Cypriot, I’ve always been around food,” Anna laughs.

“I mean it was something we always thought about when we woke up. My mother always asked me ‘what do you want to eat?’

Anna has always been inspired by her mother. Photo: Delicious Magazine / Supplied.

“All I’ve ever known was food, eating, feasting and celebrating… It’s not like I wanted to be a chef, it kind of ended up being like that. “

“Never forget where I started”:

It is this passion for food that has led Anna to be one of Australia’s most beloved and popular celebrities with an extensive career repertoire.

Anna has not only worked in the world’s finest kitchens such as Pierre Herme Patisserie in Paris, Claridge’s Hotel in London and Sofitel Melbourne, but she also put “hotel patisserie” on the map as a former manager. creative pastry at Shangri-La. Hotel in Sydney.

The chef has even released two books, sweet street in 2018 and Children’s corner in 2019, and was a guest judge on Network 10’s TV show, MasterChef, for three consecutive years.

Amidst all of this, Anna has won numerous awards, including Best Dessert in the UK, as well as Australian Hotel Chef of the Year and Pastry Chef of the Year.

When we ask the Greek Cypriot what these achievements mean to her, she is more humble than ever and says it would not have been possible without the support of her family.

“I never forget where I started,” Anna says with a smile.

“When I won Victorian Apprentice of the Year…I still remember my godmother Angela and my mom being in the kitchen washing my knives, ironing my uniform, my godmother Georgia and her husband rented a truck to put all my gear and utensils in. Everyone laughed at me for going too far.

Anna has always been supported by her family. Photo: Delicious Magazine / Supplied.

“But I won and it took me to the UK, then I won another competition and it took me to Paris, then I came back and I won another competition which took me brought to the United States.

“So all these different opportunities, but opportunities that I’m eternally grateful for. I never take them on a grain of salt.

Overcome disappointment:

Of course, with every opportunity also comes a number of setbacks and in Anna’s case, her toughest challenge to date was letting go of her dream of opening her very first patisserie in the city centre. west of Sydney.

The Greek Herald first reported on the opening of Anna’s patisserie in the old Cornersmith building in Marrickville in February this year.

But now, says Anna, the deal has failed.

“I mean I love Marrickville and I love the locals. The community is amazing, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out,” she says.

“I was in a bit dark place… It was really hard because there were a lot of people behind [the shop], working on it and then everyone was expecting it and then it just didn’t happen. I was very depressed.

Despite this, Anna is determined to pick herself up and consider opening another store in Sydney that will be “bigger” and “more brand new”, while continuing to work on producing her premium cookie dough.

Anna advances.

“We are considering a new store, but it will be a very different concept. Mom will be part of it in different elements. She will certainly do masterclasses. We will do workshops with Greek pastries and desserts and tastings as well,” explains the chef.

With this exciting development on the agenda, we only had to ask Anna what motivates her in the face of difficulties and her answer is simple.

“Food is our love language,” she concludes.

“You know, we have obstacles, we have obstacles. I mean, how exciting is it to move on? It’s so cool and I think my number one fan is my mum and the Greek community has been fantastic as well.

READ MORE: Chef Anna Polyviou shares her favorite artifacts from the “Open Horizons” exhibition.

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