“Today, we’re all Greek,” said Nardin Sarkis, a SoMa resident who came up to the Mission with his partner for the annual Greek Food Festival. Dolmades, spanakopita, gyros — Sardis was excited to try some favorite dishes and relive the flavors of his recent holiday in Greece. “And we took moussaka to go,” he added.
This year’s festival is the 72nd edition, and is held at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 245 Valencia St., near 14th Street. With Greek food, dance and music, the event gathers many from the Mission and beyond.
“We have three generations working,” said Chris Kyriacou, the parish president. Community members young and old have pitched in, adding up to around 250 volunteers.
Kyriacou has been coming to the cathedral since he was a child; his father used to be the parish priest. The parish counts around 350 families in the community, and about half are very involved in attending church and helping out with events, he said.
Volunteers started preparing pastries for the event over a month ago. Yesterday, the kitchen was still packed with a dozen people at their designated stations: Maria on pastry filling, Jack on cooking green beans and Jim on deep frying loukoumades. Pulling off a menu of some 40 items is no small feat.
Maria Ramos, a longtime parish member, learned how to make tiropita — triangle-shaped pastries filled with a blend of cheeses — from her grandmother. Today she was busy rolling up the phyllo dough and making a new last-minute batch of the cheese filling. “Even as a kid, I volunteered at the festival,” she said.
Outside in the main venue, long lines formed at every food stall. “The food is excellent,” said Kira, another customer attending the festival for the first time. “You can taste that it’s homemade.”
Kyriacou estimated that around 7,000 people will visit the festival over the weekend. It’s the largest fundraiser of the year for the parish. The money will go to various projects in the community, including the construction of a new cathedral building.
The food festival continues for the last day today Sept. 17, from noon to 8 p.m.