The Loukoumi Foundation hosted its 3rd Annual Mediterranean Tasting event, left to right: Nick Katsoris, Fr. Constantine Lazarakis, Dr. Dimitri Kessaris, Dr. Lisa Liberatore, Chefs Maria Loi, Jehangir Mehta, Cesare Casella, and Tom Lo. Photo by Jillian Nelson
NEW YORK – The 3rd Annual Loukoumi Foundation Mediterranean Tasting event was held on March 6. Loukoumi Foundation President Nick Katsoris shared his thoughts about the event which raises funds for worthy causes and also raises awareness about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
Katsoris said via email: “It was a wonderful day last Sunday as the Loukoumi Foundation hosted its 3rd Annual Mediterranean Tasting event, live from the new Chef Maria Loi/Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation Teaching Kitchen at the Floating Hospital in Long Island City, featuring a Dream Team of Celebrity Chefs including Chefs Maria Loi, Dr. Tom Lo, Jehangir Mehta, Cesare Casella and virtually Chefs Miltos Karoubas, Diane Henderiks, and Bill Yosses. All proceeds benefit the Loukoumi Feeds The Hungry Program and the Floating Hospital Teaching Kitchen.”
“At the event, we also presented our Parents of the Year Award to Dr. Lisa Liberatore and Dr. Dimitri Kessaris, inspiring founders of Luv Michael,” Katsoris continued. “The award was presented by Fr. Constantine Lazarakis, Pastor of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons and luv Michael board member.”
Dr. Liberatore and her husband, Dr. Kessaris, were born in 1964. Both grew up in Queens, NY, and met in 1982 while attending chemistry lab at New York University and went on to medical school at Stony Brook School of Medicine, graduating in 1990. Both were the first medical doctors in their families. Before residency, they married and moved to New York City in 1990. Lisa went on to complete her residency in otolaryngology in Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat hospital in 1996 and began her 25 year private practice in NYC. Dimitri did his urology residency in Long Island Jewish Hospital and started his private practice in 1996.
They had two sons, Alexander in 1996, and Michael in 1997. They were honored by the Loukoumi Foundation as parents of the year, not because of their accomplishments in the field of medicine, Katsoris noted. “The honor is directed towards the appreciation of their ongoing fight to help their autistic son Michael, and a 24-year battle to help create a wonderful life for Michael and for all of the autistic young men and women in the world.”
“They founded two non-profit organizations. The first, Luv Michael in 2015, is a bakery that trains, educates, and employs autistic adults. The second is US Autism Homes (USAH), formed in 2019. USAH provides solutions for independent living for autistic adults beyond the lives of their parents,” Katsoris continued. “It appears that their philosophy of focusing on goals, achieving goals, and helping others best prepared them for this truly important and necessary mission. Dr. Lisa has stepped away from her private practice since 2019 in order to focus 100% of her efforts on these ministries while Dr. Kessaris has continued his private practice with offices throughout the NYC area.”
Michael is living his best life in Southampton, NY, in the first US Autism Homes model home with his three housemates. The house is connected to the community through the support of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church in Southampton. The plan is to open three more homes in Southampton and then replicate throughout the country and the world.
Luv Michael’s base of operation is in Tribeca, NY, and currently has 15 employees from the boroughs of New York. Luv Michael sells handmade, artisanal and gluten-free granola at various stores including Fresh and Co in New York. The true success of Luv Michael came upon the establishment of the first virtual autism advocacy program in 2019. To date, over 15,000 teenagers from 30 countries have been educated to become allies and advocates to the autism community. Luv Michael is seeking to expand its volunteer program to as many students as possible paving the way for a more accepting world for all.
Post event tickets are also still available and include a recording of the program and a Tasting Backpack shipped to your home. The Tasting Backpack features Loi Pasta, Helios Greek Pasta, Kyknos Feta and Oregano Tomato Sauce, Sparta Gourmet Olive Oil, Loi Handmade Baklava, Soom Foods dark chocolate tahini, Cretamel sesame bars, Renewal Mill Oat Chocolate Chip Cookie mix, Floating Hospital sailor’s hat and materials, the Loukoumi book “Inspiring Stories That Make A Difference” and other wonderful items all packaged in your very own limited edition backpack. More infromation is available online: https://bit.ly/34rpDVG.
The Silent Auction also continues and closes Thursday, March 10, 9 PM EST. Auction prizes include a Tasting Dinner for six at Loi Estiatorio and a copy of Chef Maria’s book The Greek Diet, a “Me & You” personalized Chef’s experience with Chef Jehangir Mehta, Chef Diane Henderiks limited edition knife set, a gift certificate to Chef Dr. Lo’s Spy C Cuisine, a gift basket courtesy of Chef Cesare Casella and The Center for Discovery, an ECOS Gift basket, Loukoumi keepsakes and much more! More information on the Silent Auction is available online: https://bit.ly/3MzsQ6N.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
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