Like our other favourite Australian household brands, they also started off from humble beginnings. Today Vili’s pies are among the most popular brands for the classic Aussie staple, the meat pie, and distribute their products globally. Here’s their story…
Vili’s Pies started off with humble beginnings. Tell us the story!
The Vili’s story of success from humble beginnings to an iconic South Australian business is one that tugs on the heart strings.
Vili’s father arrived in Adelaide in 1956, escaping the Hungarian revolution, all his belongings in one old suitcase tied together with a belt. Survival was paramount, education was unnecessary. Both Vili’s parents had been chefs in Hungary, so creating food was already a seed that had taken hold and was starting to grow. As soon as Vili was old enough, he went to work at a local bakery at the ripe age of 14 to help support his family. With hard work, commitment and passion, Vili and Rosemary, life and business partners, established a business that was to eventually become one of South Australia’s great success stories, distributing nationally and exporting to 24 countries globally at peak export.
Deeply grateful for the opportunities given to them in Australia and aware of their community’s needs, they recognised the importance of giving back to the community that supported them on their journey. They have actively contributed to the development of their industry and to the prosperity of their working community. They employ 360 staff with HR policies that support youth and mature age employment. Disadvantaged people make up 10% of their workforce. They support 57 charities and Rosemary has taken an active role serving on the board of 12 of these charities.
Today Vili still works alongside his staff, showing the same passion and care for his products that he did almost 50 years ago when he began. You’ll find him rolling dough in the bakery, serving food at the café during lunch and chatting with his customers.
Mr Milisits goal was to have a national company, and now he distributes globally and opened up Café De Vili’s which are all very successful. How did this all come about?
Vili had a vision of taking its diverse range of products to the world. In 1994 this was achieved when Vili’s was accredited as a food export grade facility and commenced exporting its foods across the seas. In the year 2000, Vili’s won exclusive supply rights for bakery products at the Sydney Olympic Games. This was the catalyst to presenting our world class, delicious pastries to the world. Vili's Bakery has expanded beyond Australia and is now supplying quality bakery products worldwide to 17 countries in Asia, Europe, and the Pacific.
What do you think sets Vili’s Pies apart from all the other businesses in your industry?
The humble Aussie meat pie was transformed when Vili started his baking revolution and stated that “a meat pie should only contain meat”. Don’t all meat pies contain meat only? Not so! Many pies contain soybean substitutes and artificial colours and preservatives that give the indication of high-quality meat. Vili’s Pies do not just have any meat, but high-quality lean beef. “It must be fresh” became another Vili's philosophy, so he used real onions and rich beef gravy. Vili’s pies contain around half the fat of your average meat pie because they have only quality lean meat. Not only are they lower in fat, they are higher in real meat flavour and lower in salt than the competition.
The revolution continued and Vili perfected his now legendary flaky pastry, much lighter than normal pie casings, but strong enough to hold the meat filling without spilling. Every Vili’s pie, pastie and sausage roll is handmade. Vegetables are peeled by hand; spices are added by hand and anything that doesn’t match Vili’s high standards is rejected by hand. As Vili says, “machines can’t taste”, but humans know the difference and can give the thumbs up to a great pie.
How have you overcome difficulties throughout this pandemic?
Through hard work, dedication and a willingness to be agile, Vili’s have worked through the challenges of this pandemic. The business proudly made a point of maintaining its’ workforce during this period. This has been achieved with a focus on streamlining and condensing production and accomplished by our staff’s flexibility and ability to work in multiple departments across the business.
Finally, we must thank our amazing and loyal customer base for their unwavering and continued support during these most challenging months.
What’s your most popular item?
Our Beef Pie, hands down!
Have you got any other projects coming up?
We’ve been working hard in the kitchen on NPD, we have some exiting product releases scheduled for early 2021. Watch this space…
What other advice do you give to fellow Australian’s or immigrants wanting to start off their own businesses?
Put everything you can into your brand. Evolve your products and services. Back yourself and take those calculated risks. Do all of these things without losing your sense of humour- you will need it along the journey!
To show your support and satisfy your pie cravings, shop through Vili’s Pies range we have on offer at Picnic St.