Cypriot Con Panayides, a fishmonger living in Australia, and his family are rapidly becoming household names in Australia as contestants in a popular cooking game-show, Daily Mail Australia reported on Monday.
Twelve episodes into the game-show, the Panayides family has advanced to the final three of Australian Channel Nine’s Family Food Fight.
While they are “flamboyant and fun in the kitchen, they have suffered their fair share of heartbreak”, Daily Mail Australia said.
“In an emotional interview with TV Week, contestant Con Panayides, 44, has opened up about the tragic death of the brood’s matriarch, Maria,” it said.
The amateur chef told the Australian magazine that he would have “loved my mum to see my kids”.
“I have three beautiful children she never got to meet,” he was quoted as saying.
Maria Panayides passed away from cancer in 2007, after a three-year battle with the illness.
She was survived by Con, his father George, sister Soulla and brother Fanos.
The four appear as a team on Family Food Fight, where, the Daily Mail said, “they have fast become beloved competitors”.
Still, it added, Maria’s premature death is “not the first hardship the family have faced”, referring to their uprooting in the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
“Con was just a toddler when his parents arrived in Australia as refugees with no money and nothing more than a suitcase,” the Daily Mail said.
Among the show’s judges is Anna Polyviou, an Australia-based Greek Cypriot award-winning pastry chef at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, dubbed the “punk princess of pastry”.