Eugene was born in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey to Greek parents in 1965. His paternal grandfather was from Minsk, Bellarus, hence the Russian surname. Eugene and his parents migrated to Australia in 1968. His parents’ culinary repertoire has deep Hellenic origins, but has been influenced by the cuisine of the Turkish Peninsula. Eugene’s father, Ilya, was a confectionary salesman for a famous chocolatier called Baylan (established in 1923) and learned to make many Turkish-Greek confectionaries. His mother, Stella, is an accomplished cook herself and has taught Eugene many of her recipes.
Eugene is married to Kali Orexi team member, Christine and together they have four children. Eugene is the Senior Director of Cell Biology and Physiology at CSL Limited as well as an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.
Eugene has been photographing food for 25 years. He began by documenting his own elaborate, multi-course dinner parties (before the worthy diversion of parenting) and then continued by chronicling his global, gastronomic adventures.
Eugene has embraced the Kali Orexi vision. He believes in the preservation of these traditional Greek recipes and the memories of their cooks into perpetuity; ensuring they do not fade into the past with the passing of their current custodians. Given this belief and his passion for foodie photography, Eugene was excited to join the team and help with framing the Kali Orexi fare in pictures!
Rita was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1970 to Greek parents, Vasiliki and Nikiforo who were both born in the picturesque village of Kastraki. She spent her childhood serving customers in her parents’ cafes and setting tables in their restaurants and reception hall. Throughout her life, she has also been heavily involved in planning, preparing and co-hosting family feasts and celebrations.
Rita’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Commerce Degree with Honours and a Master of Business Administration. Rita’s work experience encompasses 20 years of business planning, project management, and research and analysis roles in large corporations. With this business background Rita helped create structure and processes for KO, a challenge she absolutely thrived on.
As a novice cook, with parents who are both fabulous cooks, Rita was genuinely concerned that family favourites, including spanakopita (spinach pie), galatopita (milk custard pie), baklava and lamb gyros would be lost if she didn’t make an attempt to learn how to prepare these dishes for herself. Rita was meticulous in documenting her parents’ signature recipes for KO and successfully hosted many of them.
Rita also has a keen editorial eye – a trait she shares with Christine – and together they created and refined all the written copy on the website.
Rita loved being involved with Kali Orexi, as it enabled her to combine her educational background, corporate skills and intrinsic research and planning attributes with her passion for family, friends and food.
Carlos was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1974 to Spanish parents. Carlos’ passion for filmmaking was ignited at the age of 12 when he started making films with his family’s portable VHS camera. He followed his passion by studying filmmaking at university and then working as a freelance film editor, director and producer on projects across the globe. His projects have since screened and won awards at film festivals worldwide.
Between 2010 and 2014, Carlos taught filmmaking at various institutes in Melbourne and regional Victoria. It was whilst teaching at the Melbourne CAE, that he met Christine, one of his students, who shared her intent to film Greek grandparents cooking their signature dishes. Carlos was subsequently invited to consult on the project. Given his love of food and his interest in collaborative projects, he immediately joined the team.
Carlos relished his Kali Orexi experience and the opportunity to pursue the worthy task of documenting the true champions of Greek cuisine – Greek grandparents, their stories and their recipes. He also savoured the eating component … when the photographic stills of the finished dish were completed and everyone got to ‘dig in’!
Carlos brought a happy and warm energy to film days and made the guests feel very relaxed and special! His close-ups of cooktop cooking were mesmerising and almost meditative – and set a high standard for future KO film-makers to follow.
Kathy is a born and bred Melbournian who started off her professional life as a pharmacist, owning two businesses in inner Melbourne for over 12 years. Her passion for styling and design has been a constant in her life, with shop windows and counter displays always as important as the dispensing!
After redefining the aesthetic of modern pharmacies and successfully reinvigorating her businesses, Kathy sold them to focus her energies on her growing family; her husband and four children. At the same time, she continued to nurture and utilise her creative flair with family and friends, helping them style everything from rooms, to houses, to events.
Food and family form the epicentre of Kathy’s world, so when asked to join the Kali Orexi team (Christine, Rita and Carlos – affectionately known as the “KO Team”), she was thrilled to take up the challenge. Kathy brought a unique aesthetic to KO’s styling – with her treasure trove of props and the finished KO dish, she created amazing complex, textural landscapes for KO’s photographic images and brought a fresh, yet refined design direction for the film set. Her styling influence and legacy will live on in KO!
Benjamin was born in Seoul, Korea in 1988 and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1999. He is currently completing a course in film and television production, having previously completed studies in media and communications.
Benjamin’s passion lies in telling unique stories through audio-visual media.
Over the last few years, Benjamin has had experience in producing and presenting radio programmes and filming concerts, documentaries, television programmes, web series, music videos and short films. Most notably in 2012, Benjamin served as the Executive Producer of the Asian Pop Night at SYN Media (FM 90.7) – a Melbourne metro-wide radio station – where he was in charge of five radio programmes that aired between 8pm and 2am on Tuesday nights.
Carlos invited Benjamin to work as a close range camera operator for Kali Orexi in 2014. Through this involvement, Benjamin has not only gained technical skills in camera operation, but also gained knowledge in Greek culinary culture.
Andrew was born in Melbourne, Australia to Cypriot Greek parents. He is married and has three wonderful daughters.
Andrew is a qualified music teacher and musician with over 40 years experience. Andrew has taught music as both a classroom and a private music teacher. He currently heads ‘Metro Music School’ – a dynamic and comprehensive music school that provides instrumental music and singing programmes in primary schools throughout Melbourne – www.metromusic.net.au
Andrew has played guitar in several live Greek and Australian dance bands. He currently performs in the music duo ‘The Nightcats’ as a guitarist and vocalist. ‘The Nightcats’ perform the most popular cover songs from the 60’s to the 90’s, as well as ‘Blues Brothers Tribute Shows.’ They entertain and inspire audiences to cut loose, dance and have fun – www.nightcats.com.au
In addition to playing and teaching music, Andrew has composed music in many genres. He has written music for two Greek songs selected and performed at Antipodes Greek Festivals by well-known Greek artists, accompanied by a thirty-piece orchestra. He composed and was selected to perform a song for a book launched by a Greek-Australian author. He has composed new age classical music for festivals and short movies, as well as theme music for a number of web series including our very own Kali Orexi!