Greek pastries, cuisine on the menu for the annual event at St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church.
University Park Country Club resident Kalle Amoratis knows a thing or two about Greek pastries.
Her favorite is the galatoboureko — custard filling in a phyllo shell. But the one she makes more regularly is the koulourakia, a butter cookie.
“Three-hundred sixty five days a year, I keep them in my house,” Amoratis said. “I think that’s one every Greek wife learns to make.”
Amoratis is one of four women heading up the pastry committee for St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church’s Greek
Glendi, scheduled for Feb. 6-9 at the church.
With the help of other volunteers, for the past two weeks the women — Amoratis, University Park Country Club’s Daniela Soiman, Villa Amalfi’s Pat Trempelas and Bradenton’s Janet Rantis — have been orchestrating the preparation of the 15,000 pastries to be sold at this year’s festival.
Offerings include everything from almond crescents and baklava to their own favorites — melomakaronas (Greek Christmas honey cookies), galatobourekos and kourabiedes (butter cookies covered in powdered sugar).
For some events, St. Barbara’s volunteers make the desserts from scratch, but for the festival, desserts are brought in from Tarpon Springs, which has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any U.S. city. There are simply too many desserts to make.
Parishioners make the entrees for the festival from scratch, though, and Greek fare will include oven-roasted lamb shank, gyros, moussaka, pastitsio and Greek salads for sale.
Visitors to the 36th annual festival can also enjoy live Greek dancing and music, visiting vendor booths and tours of the church.
Glendi Coordinator Denise Chimbos said putting on the festival requires about 400 volunteers — 300 to work the festival and another 100 for preparations.
Each year, more than 10,000 people turn out for the Glendi.
“It gives us a chance to celebrate our heritage and share it with the Manatee and Sarasota community,” Chimbos said. “We want everyone to come. We hope everyone comes and has a good time.”
This year, opening night, Feb. 6, will be free admission. Guests instead can make a donation to benefit Night with the Stars Prom, a nonprofit that provides a prom experience to Manatee and Sarasota county residents with special needs ages 16 and up.
Proceeds from the remainder of the festival go toward St. Barbara’s youth programs, charity work and capital improvements at the church, Chimbos said.