Meet Litsa Stillianos. She is the director of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George Childcare Centre and mum to Yianni (30), Katie (26) and Chrissa (24).
Tell us about your business/current role?
My life has always revolved around family and food – how could you wish for anymore! Food for me is the essence of life and it is a simple experience that brings people together to share and celebrate. Being Greek is about celebrating life with your family and friends and food plays a very important role in this.
I have always been a part of our Brisbane Greek Community since I was a very young girl. We are very proud of the Greek Orthodox Community of St George, and the services it provides to our community, Childcare being a small arm of the huge umbrella of services.
I joined the Brisbane Hellenic Dancers and was a part of this group for many years, I hold all these fond memories close to my heart. It is now celebrating 40 years, which will be showcased at Paniyiri Greek Festival 2017.
My current role with Paniyiri is very exciting I am part of the organizing committee for the Paniyiri Traditional Greek Cooking Demonstrations. I have been the host of the cooking demonstrations for the past 10 years, and it has been a very exciting journey for me as I am passionate about Food!! Food is also a big part of my life, being Greek helps with this as we are always celebrating something that revolves around eating!!!!
I am a Teacher by profession and it has lead me to where I am now. My husband and I own a restaurant in Brisbane City – Café Mondial – so food is always a discussion point!!
I am currently the Director of the Greek Orthodox Community Childcare Centre and I have been here for the past 27 years, to work with children and their families is one of the most humbling and enjoyable professions one could wish for.
How did you come to being in this position?
I have always loved sharing and celebrating the Greek Culture and of course it’s beautiful cuisine, steeped in culture and tradition. What I love about Greek cooking are the traditions and culture that surround a recipe – this is what I love and it has become my passion! My mother is a very good cook & hostess, she has passed on so much of the culture and traditions associated with Greek food. Of course, I remember my Grandmother so clearly cooking in her little humble kitchen, she knew that food was one of the important ingredients that kept her family together.
My interest in the Paniyiri Cooking Demonstrations has just taken off, I work with a wonderful team of women who are equally as passionate as I am – it is a perfect recipe!!
What’s your business background?
My background is in teaching, I studied education for 5 years, starting off teaching in a primary school in West End. From there I became director of the Greek Orthodox Community Childcare Centre and I have been here for the past 27 years. I work with a group of the most wonderful professional, compassionate, loving and caring women. We are a unique team that provide the highest quality care and education for our families.
Who does the cooking and cleaning at your house?
I am the chief cook and bottle washer in my household, I must admit I love to take control in the kitchen but not so in the cleaning department – even though I love my home to always be clean and tidy (thank God for cleaners!) Dinnertime is our favourite time to cook, we often chat about what we should have for dinner when we are getting ready for work. We do love Greek cuisine and quite often we eat Greek food. It is simple, healthy, delicious and achievable in your own kitchen. This is what I love about it – its simplicity and honesty.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?
I love watching cooking shows – there are so many to choose from! At present, I love researching and following international cooking trends from all over the world. Cooking is connected to culture and tradition, and this is what makes it so interesting. My family are also connected to cooking and baking, because we are in the restaurant industry and are always seeking out new ideas.
My three beautiful children have grown up and are aged between 24-30. I always tried to instil and pass on our Greek traditions, values and customs to them as they were growing up. I know for certain that they are proud to be Greek and share the wonderful heritage and customs. They love the Greek cuisine often telling me I am the best Greek cook ever – but they say this to their Yia Yia (Grandmother) also.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night with your partner?
My husband Sam and I own a café/restaurant in Brisbane City called Café Mondial, which means Café of the World. We spend so much time there as it is so entertaining “people watching”. We sit outside under the umbrellas and watch the world pass us by.
Of course, I love entertaining Greek style, and we enjoy having family and friends to share and celebrate all special events, which happen regularly throughout the year.
What is your favourite local place to visit?
Each year we travel and we always end up in Greece, our favourite island is the island of Rhodes. My husband Sam loves to travel, and his parents were born in Rhodes so it has many fond memories for him.
My Grandparents were born in Asia Minor, so their traditions are flavoured with many different cultures and traditions. I have visited my Grandmother’s village in Asia Minor – it was a very emotional experience.
I love Brisbane City, how could I not, we live in West End – it is our neighbourhood. We are very cosmopolitan in Brisbane; our city is so liveable and enjoyable.
How about favourite place to eat out as a family?
We love eating at Café Mondial – it is so cosmopolitan and serves simplistic wholesome foods. We love sharing our food so we rarely order a meal for ourselves, instead we share and celebrate the event.
Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?
I think my best advice would be that you must love what you do and be passionate about it – it is not always about money it is about enjoying what you do as it takes up a huge part of your life.
Happiness is where the heart is, and mine beats in the kitchen to a special Greek rhythm.