In September 2020, thousands of Greek Australians across the nation erupted in applause as Dezi Madafferi and Penny Kerasiotis from Team Greece were crowned champions of Channel 7’s cooking show, Plate of Origin.
Just one short year later and it’s no surprise the Greek cousins can lay claim to having the coolest and most passionate fans around. After all, as Penny tells The Greek Herald, they really are just two “mother’s gone wild” who entered a cooking competition together and had their lives altered forever.
“It was very intense… because the show was during the first ever lockdown and so by the time we finished filming [in Sydney], border closures were happening and we were like, ‘how are we going to get back [to Melbourne]?’” Dezi says.
“Another thing was that initially it was supposed to be nearly three months of filming, but it was all cut down to seven weeks nearly. So it was short and sweet, but it was very tiring. Now I look back and I think, ‘how did we do it?’” Penny adds with a laugh.
Despite this, Dezi and Penny both say their experience on Plate of Origin is one they will never forget.
“[Winning Plate of Origin] truly was a dream come true. I can’t explain it any other way. It felt surreal and we just couldn’t believe it was happening,” Dezi says.
“We were so fortunate and glad that we got to represent Greek Australians and our cuisine that we love so much. It was such a privilege to do it together and as a team. We had the best time.”
Where are they now?
In the months following their victory on the cooking show, Dezi and Penny say the support from the Greek Australian community was ‘so humbling and lovely.’
“It was twofold really because we were in lockdown so when we got back, even when the show aired, we were in our homes. We couldn’t watch it with anyone, we couldn’t enjoy it with our families, our friends, with each other even. So it was a very separate sort of experience,” Dezi explains.
“However, on the flip side of that, us Greek Australians as a community are so supportive and the community really just embraced us and thanked us and it was so humbling.”
For Penny, she was surprised to see lines outside the doors of her shop Miss Penny Cakes in Melbourne.
“What really got to me was a lot of the Greeks did support us and the over 80s as well. All the yiayiades and pappoudes came to my shop crying when they met me… and they were so proud of us,” Penny says.
“It’s just so beautiful to see that people appreciate what we did. For us it was something simple but for them, it touched their heart. That’s what I really enjoyed and to this day they still come in emotional and it’s so nice.”
Of course, having such a supportive fan base has given Dezi and Penny the chance to continue developing their passion for cooking and work on their respective businesses.
In January this year, Penny extended her shop Miss Penny Cakes and has created a few Greek cake mixes such as coconut syrup cake and kourabiethes, as well as other staples including chocolate cake, vanilla cake and cookie mixes.
Dezi, who worked for Country Road for 20 years, decided to launch her own seasoning range which includes her best-selling ‘Gyro Gyro Souvlaki’ seasoning. She says it’s a ‘niche market’ but believes it’s a ‘good opportunity to do something food related but not have an actual café or shop.’ The seasonings can now be found in 12 Victorian stores, one Queensland store and online.
“Even though the show is over I don’t feel, and not to sound ungrateful or selfish, I don’t think it’s over just yet. I think there’s a lot that Penny and I have got to do, there’s a lot we’ve got to do individually. I still think the sky’s the limit,” Dezi concludes.