Alan Carmichael and Holly Hambright at A Taste of Greece. Everybody was Greek at this event!
If ever a church seemed snake-bit (aside from the actual snake-handling churches, of course) it is Saint George Greek Orthodox Church on Kingston Pike in Knoxville. Reeling from the alleged theft of more than $360,000 by its trusted treasurer that left the congregation with only $2,000 in its bank account, the church only weeks later, on Orthodox Easter Sunday, suffered a major fire.
Fortunately, insurance will cover the fire damage. But the church is definitely in need of financial shoring. To that end, the congregation organized A Taste of Greece, a delicious dinner prepared by church members and served to a sell-out crowd (at $100 per person) at Hunter Valley Farm.
Don’t think for a minute that the members are down and out. I’ve never seen a more cheerful bunch. Of course, with food like that served at this event, it would be hard not to have a smile on your face.
Father Anthony Stratis of Saint George Church with Congressman Jimmy Duncan. Father Stratis is used to catastrophes — he was at a church in New Orleans when Katrina hit.
The place was packed.
One of the passed hors d’oeuvres was octapothi — grilled octopus.
Another was keftedes — lamb meatballs.
It was a beautiful night for a party in West Knoxville.
Knoxville’s vice mayor, Nick Pavlis, center, with his brother, Bill, and sister-in-law, Nancy Pavlis. We had fun at their table.
Knoxville Councilman George Wallace with his wife, Stephanie.
Councilman Mark Campen and Carol Evans also were at the Pavlis family table.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, left, with Councilman Marshall Stair and his girlfirend, Natalie Robinson.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, right, with Gus Captain, owner of Gus’s Good Times Deli, a campus mainstay.
State Rep. Martin Daniel was there with his wife, Melissa.
I’m pretty sure the flowing Greek wines contributed to the substantial noise level.
And then the buffet opened. This moussaka was unbelievable.
Of course the souvlaki was a hit.
Oh my God. These were the best potatoes I’ve eaten in my entire life!
Alan’s plate. No, this was not a light meal! (But there were some vegetables.)
U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan and his wife, Danni. She had a big hand in organizing the event. (And, thankfully, she helped me get names for some of these captions.)
Father Anthony Stratis with Kristie and Nick Saliba.
Jeff Lee, the general manager of WBIR-TV, and his wife, Christy, hosted a table.
Here’s the rest of his crew. Standing, from left: Nick Sweet, Rebecca Lebak and Samantha Kubota. Front: Leslie and Bo Ackerson.
Michelle and Raja Jubran were there.
Matt Gallaher and Caroline Farris. (He is the chef owner of Knox Mason and knows good food when he sees it!)
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton and his wife, Stephanie.
Justin and Kristin Cazana.
Loretta and Mike Crowder.
Our pal Randy Fields of Messer Construction Co. was there with his adorable daughter, Lana Grace.
From left, Rami Eid, Bob Elliott, Faris and Marwan Eid.
Cortney Piper and Barry Armstrong.
Did I mention dessert?
And what’s better than baklava? Chocolate baklava!
Danni Varlan with Dino Cartwright, the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Eleni Stratigeas and Kathy Natour were the co-chairs of the event. Great job, ladies!
And then it was time for dancing. Here’s P.J. Jones leading off.
The Saint George Meraki Dancers were festive.
Wanna see them in action (at least the women)? Here’s a 15-second video.
Following the dancing, there was a brief live auction. And, as we left, this beautiful sky.
Wow. God was smiling on the Greeks of Knoxville, wasn’t He?
Mark your calendars: Greekfest is Sept. 25-27, 2015!
What a festive answer to adversity. And the koulourakia looks scrumptious.
God always smiles on the Greeks! Some of the greatest neighbors in our community.
Cynthia, thank you so much for being there and your kind words. It did all of our church family a lot of good to focus on something fun for a change. We are so grateful for all the amazing community support.
Maria: The food was awesome. Alan was in heaven when it came to the dessert options!
Mary Ellen: Agree. The Greek community is a huge part of Knoxville’s life and culture – especially our food scene. We are so lucky to have them.
Danni: It was a tremendous event. Alan and I are so glad we were there. Thanks for all the effort you put into it.
I’ve put Greekfest on my calendar. Don’t want to miss it.
Georgiana: Me, too! See you there!
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