Greek pastry recipes have been passed down through the generations and sometimes altered before the fans in Fort Wayne eagerly eat them every June at Greek Fest.
“As the years go on, we may put a little more orange in it or a little more this and that. We tweak it,” said Deanna Gountras, who this year organized about 30 women from Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on East Wallen Road to plan, prepare and bake treats.
Last year, with the novel coronavirus, the festival was all takeout, and baklava was the only pastry on offer, said Frank Makridakis, the fest’s chair. The festival sold out of the sweet dessert in one day, he added.
This year was a repeat of the takeout version, but with the experience of last year under their belts, organizers broadened the menu.
“Last year we had 2,000 orders in two days. This year we’re surpassing 3,000,” Makridakis said Saturday, the last day of the three-day fest.
Gyros are the biggest sellers every year with 4,500 sold this year, compared with 2,800 last year.
George’s International Grocery made the braided sweet bread, Tsoureki, baked with imported Greek flavorings, according to a hand-out menu. By Saturday afternoon, the Tsoureki was all gone.
Makridakis said when he got there Saturday, he chomped down a half a loaf in five minutes just because it was straight out of the oven. He didn’t take long to finish the second half, he joked.
But the ladies of the church made the baklava and most of the other pastries, starting in April, although this year, they got cracking in May after Easter, said Gountras, working in the back in the kitchen with Soultana Myers and Kathy Retzios. With all the pastries done, they were making Greek salads.
Back there with them was Tom Gountras, originally from Kalamata where the prized olives are grown, making large batches of rice. The foolproof method calls for combining all the ingredients before the covered baking tins are placed in the oven.
All this will be repeated next year when Makridakis and others hope to return to normal festival procedures and features like the music and dancers with blue and white Greek flags overhead.
“Next year, we’re looking forward to having one of the biggest parties we’ve ever had,” Makridakis said.