NEW YORK – A charity event in support of St. Basil's Academy in Garrison, NY, took place on September 20 at the Pi Bakerie in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.
The Hellenic Book Club of New York presented the in-person cooking class demonstration of traditional artisanal Greek cuisine with Regina Katopodis of Pi Bakerie. Chef Aleksandros Shytani from Thessaloniki demonstrated how to make homemade phyllo for savory and sweet pies including spanakopita (spinach pie), tiropita (cheese pie), hortopita (greens pie), and portokalopita (orange pie).
The event took place outside of the patisserie due to the pandemic and was the Book Club’s first fundraiser for Saint Basil Academy. Book Club President Jeannie Kouros who is also the head of the Daughters of Penelope efforts for Saint Basil, came up with the idea and noted that “during these difficult times it’s important to help out.”
All proceeds to benefit Saint Basil Academy which is a New York State licensed and accredited residential childcare facility.
Katopodis told The National Herald, “It is our pleasure to participate in this charity event. Today, we travel to Northern Greece where Mr. Aleksandros shows us how to open phyllo dough. Not the usual phyllo, but this one is from Thessaloniki. We will see him make a twisted pie.
“Mr. Aleksandros worked for 20 years in Athens in a cheese pie shop. I do not think there are more than five people around the world who know this art that he learned from his brother in Athens. I personally know another who knows how to make this phyllo and is in Ukraine. It is very difficult. I am very proud to have him here today, but we also had him working in Artopolis some years ago," Katopodis told TNH.
Then, she demonstrated how to make orange pie, one of her most popular sweets. "This is a recipe from Arta. It was by a friend of my mother’s and she gave it to me when she died. It is a very special recipe.”
"This is the airy phyllo of Thessaloniki. I'm not from there, but they taught me. With this phyllo we make twisted spinach pies, bougatses, cheese pies,” said Shytani, who has been living and working in the United States for the last ten years.
Kouros told TNH, “We thought of Regina participating in this charitable effort as many of our members are interested in cooking. We are trying to find ways to strengthen the Academy. Last year we donated ten computers for the kids. This year we have the pandemic.”