Hidden in the quiet backstreets of the old town of Rethymno on the Greek island of Crete, a plethora of long-time gone traditions still keep their magic alive. Inside ancient workshops, artisans, craftsmen, and even lutists still treasure the secrets of their arts with care and passion. This is the case with 84-year-old Giorgos Hatziparaskos, the last phyllo pastry master in the town.
Inside a simple Venetian house with high, white walls and huge open spaces, this artisan has been working the ultra-thin pastry by hand since the times of the Second World War.
He started working as an apprentice when he was about twelve and kept producing phyllo pastry all his life. It is still surprising to see how, every morning, he works the dough on the two huge tables of his workshop, sometimes making it jump into the air, to fall on the table as an oversized balloon.
During the afternoons, inside another smaller room of the building, a huge hot copper pan which is continuously spinning, cooks the fluid dough that Hatziparaskos lets fall on top of it in the shape of hundreds of thin strings, giving life to the kataifi, among Greece’s favorite desserts.
Dozens of tourists pass by his shop every day to take a look at this skills while many housewives in town still prefer his phyllo when preparing homemade pies, instead of choosing supermarket alternatives.
Against all odds and the unstoppable arrival of massive manufactured ingredients, the last phyllo master of Rethymno, together with his wife and son, has continued the tradition of homemade assets with superlative enthusiasm and commitment, producing one of the dearest treasures of Greece.