Georges Hatziparaskos still makes Phyllo by hands in Greece as he attracts tourists. Phyllo is a super-form layer used in the preparation of cuisine in hotels. The old man makes it manually at his home.
The 87-year-old man started working on Phyllo as a teenager in the 1960s. His skills in the bakery industry were all over Greece. This means the number of customers demanding the products was many. He inherited the skills from his father, who was doing it but not for commercial purposes. But after he noticed that he could make a good lump sum of money through this, he started working a full-time job.
However, the industrial revolution has changed a lot of things. Large machines have been invented, which have replaced his hand skills. Profits have dropped drastically, and therefore he cannot make it to employ more people, a report by Business Insider.
His employees are Caterina, his wife, and Paraskevas, his son. They work 12 hours a day to reach a maximum of almost 12 kg of paste before they rest. Every day, they open their shop at 8:00 am. Caterina hangs posters outside the shop to attract more clients.
The process of making Phyllo
First, they make sure the ingredients for the next day are available. In the morning, all the salt, water, and flour are mixed in large cans. This might take almost half an hour. After it has formed a thick paste, they cut it into pieces and put it on a rolling machine for stretching.
The dough is then spread on a table. The dimensions of the table determine the dough quantity. A medium-sized table can only hold 1 kg at most… A thin layer must form to ensure its fine texture for industry purposes. As the son and father do this, Caterina is always busy preparing food, a report by Reddit.
Paraskevas told Business Insider that they roll the pieces with their bare hands. Spread them on the table to make a thinner layer in the middle. This makes the edges easier to stretch until they cover the whole table. The elasticity of dough keeps on stretching every second.Caterina is always ready to cover each layer with a mat.
Each table can cover up to 10 layers. After a few minutes, dry flour is spread on top to prevent them from sticking to the mat. The last step is cutting them into small sizes and store, ready for sale.
Effects of Industrialization
The prices of each layer have dropped, according to Gorges. 320 layers can make 12 kg, and the marked price of this quantity is only 60 euros. This indicates that the inventions can harm the local traditions. He believes he makes good and better phyllo as compared to those manufactured in the industry. It comes out that in the past 20 years, he has had orders from 100 hotels across Greece, but that is no more. This is due to the effect of industrialization on mass production, a report by Business Insider.
Phyllo machines nowadays are much cheaper compared to years ago. He does not want to get them; he likes doing that manually. If he mixes the pastry wrong during his work, he has to start again from the beginning; this is sometimes hectic.
His son, Paraskevas, is a qualified engineer. In 2010 during the economic crises, he lacked job opportunities. Thus, he had to help with the family business. It has now become his norm. Giorges said he wanted to retire at the age of 60, but after his son showed interest, he added more years. His will is to leave the field with a better successor to this tradition.
Tourist, the main source of Income
Hatziparaskos says he could have quit the job, but he continues to engage in Phyllo due to tourism. He has made good cash out of tourist attractions since the start of this business. They keep on coming to take pictures as they learn the process.
Outside of working with Phyllo, he likes traveling to various countries. He has many pictures in various countries like Morocco, Hungary, Austria, France, and Spain. He always works\ hard to attract more tourists making good money. At one point, he will take a single week to be a tourist and a foreign country. But over the Corona period, the number of tourists has reduced. In 2020, only groups of 20 people visited him inside his building.
In November 2007, the Municipality of Rethymno had a big ceremony to celebrate him. He was the warrior of the community as the best tourist attraction for 10 years. He got various rewards, thanks to his family and tour guides.
Paraskevas continues with the tradition. He says he is happy when his parents are happy too. His father has always been his role model in this field. And he hopes his son will also take care of this tradition.