Maria was born in Kalloni on the island of Lesvos. She is the eldest of five siblings – four sisters and one brother. Maria was raised in a poor, but warm and loving home. Maria’s fondest recollections of her youth in Kalloni are of her father – who was a simple but good man – generously ploughing his neighbours’ fields with his beloved oxen – animals he loved and regarded as much as his children. Maria also affectionately remembers helping her mother at home with the housework, as well as the kneading and cooking when she returned home from primary school each day. During her adolescence she warmly recalls learning to embroider – a craft she continues to enjoy to this day.

At sixteen years of age, Maria travelled to Neapoli, Crete to study Home Economics. There she studied cooking, baking, decorating, music and infant-care. Upon completion of her studies, at eighteen years of age, Maria left Greece to travel to Australia in the hopes of a better life. Once in Australia, the rest of Maria’s family from Greece joined her.

Maria is a mother to two fantastic sons and three wonderful grandchildren.

Maria embodies the true Kali Orexi spirit – she enjoys cooking and sharing her dishes and recipes with family and friends. Maria has taught her grandchildren many traditional Greek recipes. She has even taught her first-born grandson, Michael, to prepare fillo pastry and make tiropita (cheese pie)!