George Economides may be an electrical engineer by trade, but on Saturday he and other family members will be manning rotisseries at the Baton Rouge Greek Festival in downtown Baton Rouge.
They will be preparing traditional Greek lamb and pork dishes, including grilled lamb chops served with Greek salad, orzo, Grecian sauce and pita bread for $15; grilled leg of lamb, also served with salad, orzo, sauce and pita, for $12; and pork souvlaki, a grilled, marinated pork tenderloin wrapped in pita bread with Grecian sauce for $4. The festival’s menu lists them as “very limited item, buy early!”
Economides comes by his cooking prowess naturally. He’s part of the family which operated Zorba’s, a popular Greek restaurant in the 1980s and 1990s and plans to open a new restaurant on Essen Lane soon. He’s also on the Greek festival’s board of directors and on the parish council of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Baton Rouge, a beneficiary of the festival. (Also benefitting are the Hellenic Cultural Center Building Fund and other local charities, including St. Vincent de Paul.)
Everyone on the family’s native island of Cyprus has an outdoor rotisserie, George Economides and his nephew Sotos Economides, 25, said last week as they kept an eye on skewers filled with boneless cubes of lamb turning on a small rotisserie set up behind George Economides’ Baton Rouge home. The lamb had been rubbed with salt, pepper, dried rosemary, Greek oregano and garlic.
“The lamb chops must be served with lemon juice,” the elder Economides said. “Greeks and lemons go together,” added sister-in-law Polina Economides. “On Cyprus, everyone has a lemon tree.”
The Baton Rouge Greek Festival is the result of an idea from Jimmy Burland, the festival’s executive director “because we saw how successful the Greek festival in New Orleans is,” George Economides said. “Two years ago, we incorporated the Baton Rouge Greek Festival and the board began planning the festival for May 2012.”
Others on its board are Mike Rood, Herodotos Pentas, Steven Booras, Frank Mulhern, Mary Webb, Bill Baltas, Andrew Thompson and the Rev. Anthony Monteleone.
All the food served at the festival — salads, stuffed grape leaves, pastries and meat dishes — are made by church members, George Economides said. Also on the festival menu are lamb chicken pita sandwiches for $7; lamb or chicken meat plates with Grecian sauce, stuffed grape leaves, orzo and pita, $8; combo plates for $10; Greek fries with a feta cheese sauce, $3; Greek salad, for $4 or $6 depending on size; hummus with pita bread, $2; Greek pastries; baklava; and beverages, including Greek wines. Imported specialty Greek food items such as olives, olive oil and candies will be available.
Festivalgoers can burn off the calories by learning to Greek dance with the Alpha Omega Sound Greek Band of Atlanta and the Holy Trinity Dancers of New Orleans.