‘Putting our Greek heritage on display’: The Grill Sisters dish on their cooking journey

As a child, I knew every time I stepped into the kitchen I would not only create culinary greatness but would earn the nervous amusement of my mother. 

“Wow, what have we got here?” she would ask through a shaken smile, knowing very well that the dish before her was over boiled pasta coated in a mix of salt and parmesan cheese.

This, of course, is a foreign experience for the Grill Sisters, Desi Longinidis and Irene Sharp, whose bold childhood creations would be bursting with flavour and ingenuity.

Speaking with The Greek Herald, the Melbourne-based sisters explain how they first found themselves in the kitchen.

“Our mum was a single mum and she worked three jobs, so Desi and I had to cook for ourselves and our two younger sisters,” Irene tells TGH. 

Desi and Irene with their mum Virginia. Photo: Supplied to TGH

“We lived near Footscray markets and we would go there and buy crabs and whatever we could afford and create different meals.

“Mum raised us four girls by herself and struggled a lot. But because of that, we got the chance to become independent and create all these amazing recipes using minimal ingredients.”

Irene’s older sister Desi shares the same appreciation.

“It was really fun because it meant we could feed our love for entertaining,” Desi says.

“We learnt from young that cooking brings people together, so when mum would get home from work we would get her to invite over all the aunts, uncles and cousins to come over and eat.”

The cooking-duo attribute this generosity to their mother, Virginia.

“Mum has always been very giving, giving whatever she could and when it comes to food she makes sure that people take enough leftovers for the next day and the day after that,” Desi says with a smile.

Irene and Desi with sisters Melpomeni and Crystal and mum Virginia. Photo: Supplied to TGH

“She’s a big influence in our lives. We watched her work so hard for us and that’s where we get our strong work ethic from,” Irene adds.

Irene is the founder of Come Grill With Me and Desi is the founder of Healthy Cook 4 Champions, which they both started so their children could have access to a bank of their recipes when they grow up.

With 243,000 followers across both their Instagram pages, Irene shares her recipes, tips and tricks on cooking outdoors, whilst Desi shares her recipes to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle.

Together, the sisters co-founded the Grill Sisters and since launching in 2019, they have appeared on national television, become Barbeques Galore ambassadors and the hosts of the 2022 World Food Championships.

In April 2023, the sisters will also be releasing their first-ever cookbook titled Grill Sisters’ Guide to Legendary BBQ.

Available worldwide, the book promises to guide aspiring barbeque kings and queens on how to fire up a juicy, tender, competition-worthy barbeque in their own backyards.

For Desi, this latest venture allows the sisters to continue showcasing their ethnicity to the world.

“When we cook, we put our Greek heritage on display and we love sharing that with people. So with the book, expect a lot of oregano, olive oil, garlic and lemon,” she says excitedly.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, don’t be alarmed as Desi also promises the book will feature her signature galaktoboureko “with a twist.”

“We’ve discovered there are so many things you can cook on the barbeque that we never thought possible,” Irene adds.

“We’ve done so many different fruits, gemista, roast lamb, bread and baklava. There’s a whole variety that sometimes really surprises us.” 

The Grill Sisters’ Guide to Legendary BBQ book cover.

Above all, both Desi and Irene say the Grill Sisters’ Guide to Legendary BBQ is a book that, just like barbequing, is for all.

“Usually in the Greek family dynamic, the men are outside on the barbeque and the women are inside making salad. With this, we’re trying to show that you can go outside and barbeque too, you don’t have to be stuck in the kitchen making salads,” Desi says.

“We love encouraging all the females to learn how to barbeque. Barbequing is for everyone and everyone should be out there enjoying it!” Irene concludes.


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