George Diakomichalis keeps family traditions alive at Kalymnos Pastries in SA

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Are you looking for somewhere to indulge in authentic Greek sweets and pastries? If so, then Kalymnos Pastries might just be the place for you.

The family-run and award-winning Kalymnos Pastries opened in South Australia in 1995. Since then, it has been a popular hot spot for lovers of traditional Greek pastries to enjoy a taste of the Greek island of Kalymnos in Australia.

Located on Henley Beach Road in Adelaide, Kalymnos Pastries’ owner and executive pastry chef, George Diakomichalis shared that it was most known for its delicious, authentic, and handmade sweets, pastries and of course, Greek coffee.    

He said they make a variety of sweets including bougatsa, kokakia, pastes, kataifi, ekmek, mille-feuille, ravani, karidopita, baklava, kourabiades, melomakarona and more. They also make a variety of savoury delights, including tiropites and spanakopites, which are a customer favourite.

Runs in the family

In an interview with The Greek Herald, George said his passion and love for cooking always ran in the family.

“In 1918, my great grandfather (Mihalis Vouros) opened our first family business in Greece, which was a zaharoplastio called ‘I Orea Kalymnos,’ which translates to ‘The beautiful Kalymnos’,” George said.

“My grandfather and my two uncles used to run the business and over time, they became my mentors. They trained me from a young age to be in the kitchen and as I got older, I would regularly go back and forth to Greece to learn more recipes and help out in the family business.”

kalymnos pastries george diakomichalis
George (right) when he was younger.

From the age of 15, George said he began taking cooking more seriously and started taking notes of his mum’s recipes.

“Growing up, my dad never let my mum work as he wanted her to raise the kids and look after the house, so she decided to create her own side hustle, making desserts from home… like baklava, galaktoboureko, mille-feuille, pastes and birthday cakes, and sell them,” he said.

“I would then come home from school and help her cook, as my two hobbies were playing sports or helping in the kitchen.

“When I got older and was out of school, I began working in a bank… I realised that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, so I resigned to pursue my love for cooking and running a business full-time.”

kalymnos pastries george diakomichalis
George at Kalymnos Pastries.

George then completed his training over in Greece under the guidance of his mum’s family.

“This led to me doing cooking classes, hosting hospitality tours, and doing demonstrations in countries all around the world,” he said. “I got to work in five-star hotels too.”

The Kalymnos Pastries chef said dessert was his specialty.

“It’s what I’ve been trained in and it’s what I’ve been doing professionally for 29 years now,” George said.

“I absolutely love what we do and what we stand for here at Kalymnos Pastries. We keep Greek traditions alive and we’re passing on fourth generation recipes.”

kalymnos pastries george diakomichalis
George loves to make desserts.

The secret to success

George said the secret to running a successful business was having great customer service and providing great quality products.

“My role here is to produce, motivate and ensure quality product and customer service is maintained,” George said.

“My sponges are made from scratch; my custards are done from scratch (I have five different custards I use) and everything is authentic.

“I’ve also got this one rule all my staff follow. I tell them that if you make something, pretend that you are the one that’s going to eat it. Pretend that you’re going to give it to the customer, look at them in the eye and say, ‘I made this for you.’ If you can say that proudly, then you’ve done it right.”

The pastry chef of 29 years at Kalymnos Pastries said he loves being able to continue his family’s legacy and pass on their recipes and traditions.

“I believe that we live in the best country in the world, Australia, because it gives people from different cultural backgrounds and opportunity to be able to come together, to work hard, and make things happen,” George said.

kalymnos pastries george diakomichalis
George with his family who help him at Kalymnos Pastries.

“For me, growing up, my fondest memories were with my grandparents. Their way of showing love was by feeding us, and for me, that’s the best thing ever and I feel so proud that I can continue that.

“My family, team and I have built such a good reputation here with Kalymnos Pastries over the years and we are supported by so many people in the Greek community and beyond. And that to me, is such a big blessing.”

George works alongside his wife Eleni, and his two daughters, aged 15 and 18, who help at the patisserie part-time after school.

Kalymnos Pastries is open Tuesday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and on Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm.

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