The new home: Australia // Family Clota-Sans

Family Clota-Sans

Continental food in Australia
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Tony and Josefa Clota´s passport

Tony had a great reputation in the hospitality industry for instigating the Cafe and Caterers Association of Victoria. 

Eulalia Parer married Marcus Clota and in 1885 decided to go to Australia with their son Antonio, when he was 17. Tony married Josefa Comellas in Barcelona in 1893 and decided to migrate to Australia. They stayed at Box Hill with the Parers from where Josefa often spoke of the hard times where there was only a camp oven, and washing had to be done outside in an open area. But she was remembered by her grandaughter Lola as a ‘wonderful cook who could get a meal from next to nothing’.

And then she had chooks, I can remember chooks up there, she used to blooming well kill the chooks herself, I used to run a mile, I couldn't bear it. How she did it I don't know but she used to get the damn chook and put the head under the arm and turn it around... I don't know, and then umm... she would pluck them, and I mean... the chook had to go into a bucket of boiling water... oh no...  oh look, it used to make me sick.

She did a lot of continental cooking, I can remember I had some friends over from the convent, you know girls where, I suppose I was about 12 or 13 or something like that, and they came in for a meal and of course Gran dished up, I can see it now, a big platter of spaghetti and a beautiful sauce over it, you know. Anyway I can remember one of the girls say “what's that?” That meal, we weren't used to continental food in those days, no one knew what spaghetti was. Didn't have a clue what it was. And anyway, of course they polished it all off, there was none left, you know, they loved it. Didn't know what spaghetti was, and we had been brought up on it, spaghetti and dried beans and you know all that continental sort of cooking. And of course she always did chickens, she did those beautifully.

Tony started to make his life in the hotel and cafe world, where he later became very successful. In 1896 they moved to Fitzroy and Frank and Josephine were born. Later on they moved back to Box Hill and built “Paraville” and eventually built “Florida House” in Surrey Hills just before the war (WWI)started.

Tony started in the catering trade with James Rubira at the John Bull Tavern, with J. Triado at the Royal Arcade Hotel and later on at the Parers Crystal Cafe where he worked as a manager for many years. He then purchased the Cafe Royal in Empire Arcade, Flinders Street. He had a great reputation in the hospitality industry for instigating the Cafe and Caterers Association of Victoria and also in the sports scene as a member of the Committee of the Fitzroy Football Club, which funnily enough wore the same colours as the Barcelona Football Club. Tony was very popular between the newly arrived Spanish migrants, helping them with bureaucracy and language issues. 

Tony and Josefa had two children: Frank and Josephine. Frank married Enid Forbe and Josephine married Joaquim Sans in a wedding that was reported at the Punch magazine, a sign of the importance of the family within Melbournian society. The bride’s dress was designed at a well known fashion shop and made out of satin and Brussels lace with embroidered roses made from silver lame. They had three daughters: Lola, Josephine and Dorothy. Lola remembers the fascination her dad had with the Australian gum tree and the way he talked about it during his several visits to Spain.