An appetite for life: A Greek immigrant’s journey of hearty food and hospitality

When I was a child, my favorite dessert was (and still is) galaktoboureko, a custard pie layered with sheets of phyllo and drenched in syrup. Growing up, we would occasionally eat diples, sheets of light, airy dough, folded and fried then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with walnuts, or ecmec, a layered dessert made with kataïfi (shredded phyllo) and whipped cream. To us, these treats were as familiar as a brownie or a chocolate chip cookie would be to any Canadian child growing up in the ’80s.

Dad was proud of bringing a piece of his homeland and his heritage to his restaurant. I believe he was born to be in the business — naturally charismatic and very sociable, he is a master storyteller who can capture the attention of everyone in any room. He developed friendships with every customer who walked through the door, with his staff and with other locals. “It wasn’t only about the food. It was about bringing people together to share and to make good memories with their friends and families. I still remember many of the friends we made during our time there,” he says.

There was the fire chief, Larry, and his wife, Kim. There was the French-Canadian trapper, Pierre, and his wife, Joanne, who lived on a self-sufficient farm on the outskirts of the tiny town. There were Gerry and Angelo, two fellow Greeks who had also found their way to work in restaurants in remote BC There was Annie, one of the waitresses at the restaurant, and her husband, a renowned taxidermist, and the Zieglers, who had made their way to Canada from Austria and Germany. All of these lives were brought together in my Greek-Canadian dad’s restaurant in Mackenzie, BC

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