Tastes of Greece From Our Table to Yours
Our story starts in
Welcome to Fouli’s Kitchen – Ilion Traiteur!
When guests walk into Ilion Traiteur, they are instantly greeted with the authentic tastes and smells of Greece emanating from our decadent pastries and traditional Greek meals for the family. Whether we are crafting our family’s award winning moussaka recipe that has been passed down through the generations, or whipping up traditional Greek favorites with a modern twist, every meal that leaves our kitchen is instilled with the warmth and familiarity of traditional Greek cuisine.
A traditional Greek kitchen starts with the sounds of the hustle and bustle of a husband and wife team working together and the scents of the natural flavours of Greek cooking: fresh-pressed olive oil straight from the olive groves in Kalamata, fresh vegetables, garden herbs and spices.
As young girls dream of becoming Wonder Woman, a young Fouli, at eight years old, is watching her Yiayia work diligently with her fingers carefully layering the eggplant to her award winning moussaka recipe. She observes her grandmother’s every move and is intent on learning how to cook. She has fond memories of pretend cooking in her grandparents’ restaurant kitchen. Fouli’s passion for pastry comes from her father Fotios, who taught her how to bake and her mother Marina who taught her how to cook. So many people today do not experience the joy of cooking mostly, because of their lack of time or instruction. Ilion Traiteur brings families together, those with busy schedules and lives, allowing people to enjoy food and flavours bringing forth values from a time where meals were prepared with love and dedication and were meant to be savoured. Every family has its story and a shared passion that unites generations. Ours begins in 1970, when our family set forth the pillars of their first of many restaurants in Canada.
Humble Beginnings & Sacrifices
We often hear our grandparents talk about how hard the old times were during the war, the typical story of families who have crossed the ocean to start over in search of a better life for their children. However, no matter the struggle Yiayia and Pappou made sure that the assurance of their success lay in the form of their own hands. This is their story…
In 1937, Pappou Demosthenis, my mother’s father, was only 17 years old when he began working in Athens. By 1939, WWII had been declared and he wasn’t accepted as a soldier because he hadn’t received enough training, hence his journey as a chef begins! He started working in Alimos, Greece in the suburb of Athens in a restaurant called Flisvos located on the coastline.As the war intensifies, he returns to his hometown of Mitropoli, Karditsa in 1943 as Athens was in famine.
By the summer of 1959, Yiayia Christina, refuses to accept her circumstances and dreams of a better life for her family, she applies for work in Germany. She is accepted to work and her husband isn’t, so she makes a hard decision to leave her family behind to go and work in a factory. After 4 months of the long distance relationship with her husband and children she reconnects with her family in Germany and they decide to begin their journey to Canada.
Pappou and Yiayia’s journey in the restaurant business started in Vancouver in 1970 with their first restaurant called “Acropole”.
Since 1978, Yiayia Christina’s mission to solidifying her dream of success begins with the “Anesty’s”restaurant in Toronto. Yiayia Christina was ahead of her time, a struggling and fearless woman spent countless hours working in her kitchen layering her infamous plates of moussaka and passionately cooking for her clients. Her strong work ethic did not go unnoticed, she was appointed “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1988, an event that has inspired her grand-daughter Fouli to follow her dreams as a chef and entrepreneur.
Yiayia Christina’s dream is still alive today and honored by her granddaughter, Fouli, who spends hours lovingly preparing her grandmother’s recipes for her clients of Ilion Traiteur. Cooking for Fouli, is her passion and her mission is to provide her clients with mouthfuls of carefully prepared traditional greek cuisine. Healthy food and quality ingredients are never compromised in her cooking.
My Parents’ Story: Dream of A Better Tomorrow
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France
Fotios, Fouli’s father, arrives in Canada in 1959 only to work in a parking garage, working as an attendant making 25 cents an hour. Life wasn’t what he had dreamed it would be so he left for Winnipeg in 1960 and by 1961 started working in the Grand Rapid dams (Hydro Winnipeg).
Having earned enough money , he returns to Montreal and begins his career in the bakery business. In September of 1962 “Navarino Bakery” opened its doors on Park Avenue. In the meantime he also opened “Rialto Souvlaki” on Park Avenue in 1968, it was actually one of the 1st souvlaki joints in Montreal.
Setting the Stage for Health & Wellness Snacks
Later in 1982, Fotios decided to leave behind the bakery with the support of his wife, Marina, they pioneered and manufactured healthy, Greek sesame bars & snacks. During that time Fouli did a lot of cooking as her parents were working long hours and she would prepare the meals at home.
And now here we are…………..ilion!
Next Chapter: Adapting to Modern Taste and Food Trends
Traditional greek with a modern twist. Today’s food intolerances have allowed the founder of Ilion, Fouli, along with her husband Jimmy to adapt her Yiayia’s award winning moussaka to modern tastes by creating a lentil vegan and vegetarian option. Fouli does not comprise taste but rather adapts her traditional recipes to appease modern taste. The right ingredients add flavour without substituting the natural flavours of greek cooking.