submitted by Peter Makarthis on 20.03.2005
285 Gravelly Beach Rd
Catherine McCarthy established this business March 2004 continuing a tradition of Greek business in the hospitality industry.
Her great grandfather’s family, commencing with Peter Phacheas (Fatseas), arrived in the colony of NSW 1889 and worked at oyster saloons in Sydney until he established his own business in 1894 at Orange. Peter was associated with businesses in Newtown (1897) and Inverell (1899). He returned to Greece 1901 and returned to Australia with his elder brother George Phacheas and was associated with businesses at West Maitland (1902) and assisted George to establish an oyster saloon at nearby Kurri Kurri (1904).
Peter Phacheas in the ensuing years moved on to establishments in Goulburn, Gatton (Qld), and Dubbo.
Catherine’s Papou – Theo Psaros – arrived from Kythera 1912 and worked in the same scene in Sydney, Cessnock, and Queanbeyan. Like many other Greeks of that generation he had a stint on the cane fields of Queensland which enabled him to stake himself in to business at S. Peter & Co Inverell NSW 1919. Theo Psaros together with his brother Peter who arrived at Inverell1922 conducted themselves in a life long partnership at Inverell with the S. Peter & Co, IXL Café (1922) and the Monterey Café (1936) until they retired 1969.
Catherine attended Ryde Catering College (1982) and afterwards worked in a number of catering companies in Sydney until moving to Inverell and establishing Oslo’s on Otho 1993.
Moving to Tasmania in 1996 saw a return to the origin of the tradition with the acquisition of the sea food establishment Gatenby’s at Rosevears.
Koukla’s, situated on the western shores of the Tamar River north of Launceston is a Mediterranean restaurant and coffee shop with an emphasis on traditional Greek fare.
In all, over a century and four generations of Kytherians in the hospitality industry is a significant achievement.
18 June 2008
This feature from The Launceston Examiner
State's produce perfect in Greek menu
Lifestyle, Leisure, Eating & Travel
The Koukla's Cafe team: Kristian Geale, Jenna Higginson, Margaret Dargan and Cathy McCarthy. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON
GREEK cuisine and fresh Tasmanian produce is a winning combination for Koukla's Cafe at Gravelly Beach.
Locally grown fruit, vegetables, herbs, seafood and meat form the base of the Mediterranean meals that attract hundreds of Tasmanians and tourists to the riverside restaurant.
"We're driven by what's in season," owner-manager Cathy McCarthy said.
"For example, the scallop season is coming; we only put scallops on in scallop season. We don't have frozen ones."
Chef Margaret Dargan, who has worked with Ms McCarthy since they started the business five years ago, said the aim was to keep the top-quality local flavour true to its origin while extending its flavour.
"We've got a little network around here ... we might arrive at work and there'll be a box of figs on the doorstep, or someone might have grown some beautiful egg-shaped tomatoes," she said.
"There's a man comes who around with a wheelbarrow full of produce and says `come and see what you need out of here' just like you would if you were living in provincial France."
Lamb - the Greek staple - is sourced from Flinders Island.
Ms McCarthy, a third generation Greek, serves an authentic Mediterranean cuisine modified for Australian culture.
"(In Greece) it's more village-type food, more hearty and wholesome with lots of flavours. My mum goes over quite a bit and she says the meat content is not huge, you get a lot of vegetables, lots of greens," she said.
"So when we do things here, we have to bump up the protein because everyone has to have meat. We do classic Greek dishes like kleftiko, which is a slow roasted lemon lamb.
"But even though I've got the Greek flag flying, it's really from any country around the Mediterranean. We've got Spanish and Moroccan.
"One of our signature dishes is the Sicilian seafood stew, an Italian-style dish. It's a hearty meal with salmon, trevalla, mussels and prawns in a tomato and basil broth. It's great at this time of year."Ms McCarthy is Koukla's dessert specialist, baking popular home-made sweets like baklava, Greek custard pie and lemon meringue cheesecake from her mother's recipes.
"She's my inspiration ... she taught me the basics and I perfected them," she said.
Ms McCarthy's parents also unintentionally named the cafe after the Greek endearment they gave to their children.
"They have named two of my three businesses now," she said.
"I started with a gourmet sandwich shop in Inverell in NSW then operated Gatenby's fish shop in Rosevears for six years.
"The reason I opened Koukla's was basically because I lived out here and there was nowhere to eat. I've still got nowhere to eat, but everybody else has! And it was just something different.
"A lot of people said I was crazy. They didn't think there was a market for a Greek cafe in Gravelly Beach.
"But we have people from Launceston, people from everywhere. We're in the Lonely Planet guide so we get lots of tourists."
Ms McCarthy is still passionate about her work, which she says is often like a big party with a great atmosphere, but plans to take an extended holiday to Greece when her daughter finishes school in two years.
Written by Holly Ranson – Launceston Examiner
© Launceston Examiner June 2008
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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