Guests to delve into Greek culture at Gala

By Kristin Burns

The Greek Gala, hosted by the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, will give guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in Greek culture through food, music and dancing.

Dana Telep, a co-chair of the Greek Gala and a member of the church, said the event will allow guests to experience Greek culture and food at its finest.

The gala will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Phoenix Ballroom at 401 S. Third St. in Waco.

Tickets are $35 and can be ordered at Tickets for the event are selling fast, Telep said, and will not be available at the door.

Appetizers and music will be from 6 to 7 p.m. in the ballroom, and the dinner buffet will open at 7 p.m. Dessert and dancing will follow.

Guests are invited to learn the traditional Greek dances with the dancers and explore the bookstore that will be at the venue.

“The Greek Gala is open to Wacoans and Baylor’s family, certainly this year with Parents Weekend going on,” Telep said. “This would be a fun thing to do after the football game.”

For the past 25 years, St. Nicholas has hosted the annual Greek Food Festival. This year, the Greek Gala will be replacing the festival as a three-course, sit-down dinner with samples of authentic Greek food. Members of St. Nicholas are preparing the food based on family recipes.

“We have recipes going back through families and generations,” Telep said. “It’s going to be the best you can find in Waco.”

The appetizers of the evening will be spanakopita (spinach pastries), tiropita (cheese pastries), keftedes (Greek meatballs) and hummus and pita.

The main course will include chicken or beef souvlaki, rice pilaf, Greek village salad, pastitsio (pasta dish) and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves).

The dessert menu is baklava, vanilla ice cream and coffee.

“What we have is a tour of the typical kinds of food that we associate with the Greek world,” said Dr. Daniel Nodes, chair of the classics department at Baylor and a member of St. Nicholas.

Nodes said the Gala is a celebration of both ethnic and religious originations.

“This is a celebration of a particular nation, part of the world, cuisine, music, dance forms and other forms of arts,” Nodes said. “It has a way of celebrating Greek contributions to American civilization.”

The Greek Gala is an opportunity for the members of St. Nicholas to educate the people of Waco about their heritage.
Many of the members of the church are descendants from immigrants of Greece.

“The immigrants never wanted to lose their roots,” Nodes said. “How do you show that? You celebrate. You celebrate life. It really is a rich experience.”

At the Gala, guests will experience live music played on Greek instruments during their appetizer and main course.

A troop of dancers will attend the event as an example of the ancient tradition of regional dance.

The historical displays at the event will focus on the personal stories of Greek immigrants who settled in Waco and how they impacted the community with their arrival.

“Many restaurants are still owned by Greek immigrants,” Telep said. Some restaurants started by Greek immigrants and members of St. Nicholas are The Elite Café and D’s Mediterranean Grill.

The Greek Gala will continue the annual tradition of the Greek Food Festival in the future.

“The Greek Gala is a way for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church to participate with the Waco community and invite them into our culture,” Telep said.