NEW YORK – Seven celebrity chefs participated in the Loukoumi Foundation’s Mediterranean Tasting event at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan on October 28. The event capped off a week of events celebrating the release of Inspiring Stories That Make A Difference by 75 young authors, the latest book in the Loukoumi series by Nick Katsoris, founder and President of the Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation.
Proceeds from the event benefit the new program Loukoumi Feeds The Hungry in which Celebrity Chef Maria Loi will cook with a different school each quarter, and then together they will bring the food they cook to a local homeless shelter.
At the tasting event, the “Dream Team of Chefs” cooked up Mediterranean specialties attendees enjoyed buffet-style. From cold appetizers to Greek and Cypriot favorites including octopus, spanakopitakia, halloumi, Greek yogurt with honey and koulourakia for dessert, attendees had a wonderful time all for a good cause.
Katsoris gave the welcoming remarks noting the events celebrating the release of Inspiring Stories during Make a Difference With Loukoumi Week which included the Loukoumi Good Deed Bus Tour of Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, the town which on September 11, 2001 took in the passengers of the diverted planes on that fateful day and inspired the musical Come From Away. On October 19, students from Gander Elementary School followed in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, visiting many of the local locations featured in Come From Away, doing good deeds at each.
On October 21, the Loukoumi Foundation launched the new Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation Treatment Room at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As part of St. Jude’s STARR program, while patients are receiving their treatments in the room, reading instructors will come in and help the children with their studies since they often have to leave their schools for months at a time to receive care. The Loukoumi Foundation room is funded by the donations of children who make a caring card for patients and also donate $1 to fund this project.
On October 22, the day of the release of Inspiring Stories That Make a Difference, all the young authors of the book and Loukoumi were invited to attend a performance of Come From Away on Broadway followed by a talkback with the cast. On October 26, the Loukoumi Good Deed Bus toured Manhattan with stops including a visit with Chef Maria Loi cooking with children at a local school, and then together bringing the food to a local homeless shelter. A stop at the 9/11 Tribute Museum followed where bus riders and Come From Away families wrote “Never Forget” cards and letters to families who lost loved ones on 9/11.
Katsoris then introduced the celebrity chefs, including Loi who came up with the idea for the tasting event, The Center for Discovery’s Department of Nourishing Arts Chief Chef Cesare Casella, Host of Fresh to Frozen and Back Chef Diane Hendericks, Point-Hub CEO and President of the Hellenic Chefs Federation Chef Miltos Karoubas, Executive Chef of The Sheraton NY Times Square Chef Achilles Poliviou, White House Executive Pastry Chef and The Perfect Pie Chef Bill Yosses, and Executive Chef of the New York Athletic Club Chef Anthony Walton.
Chef Achilles Poliviou, Chef Maria Loi, Poliviou’s wife Anne Marie Poliviou, Andrew Burriesci, Mauricio Benitez, and Lucas Marino. Photo: TNH/ Matina Demelis
Katsoris also presented the inaugural Parents of the Year Award to Mike Manatos and Laura Evans Manatos who brought their three children, Sienna, Andrea and Lucas, up to the stage to accept the award.
“When we started ten years ago we had 200 kids participating in one year. This year, we have reached 100,000 children across America participating in our programs,” Katsoris said of the Loukoumi Foundation’s decade of making a difference.
He told The National Herald that he was very proud “of what we have achieved. All this is to teach children how to make a difference in this world, not just one day but every day to become the next generation of philanthropists. These kids are our future. Every adult should inspire a child to do good deeds. That is how we will change the world.”
Point-Hub CEO and President of the Hellenic Chefs Federation Chef Miltos Karoubas and Chef Maria Loi. Photo: TNH/ Matina Demelis
Chef Maria Loi said, “When you see this whole world around you, what else do you want. Loukoumi is in my heart. What we do is something different. We will continue and the next event will be even greater.”
Chef Poliviou with roots in Cyprus was born in Britain but has lived in America for many years. He told TNH, “It is an honor for me to be a part of this event and support such an endeavor. With a name like Achilles, I have to support it.”
Chef Karoubas traveled from Greece for the event, which, he noted, “is of great significance and so I decided to come. We are promoting Greek flavors and Mediterranean cuisine.”
Guests received a parting gift at the event, a copy of the charming children’s book, Loukoumi Saves a Park.
More information about the Loukoumi Foundation and the books in the Loukoumi series is available online: www.loukoumifoundation.org.