Every spring, 8,000 shish kebabs, 4,000 servings of Grecian-style chicken, 8,000 servings of spanikopita, 2,000 pieces of baklava, and 1,200 butter cookies are handmade with love and laughter by old friends and family.
Cousins and restaurateurs, Nick Vergos of the Rendezvous and Dimitri Taras of Jim's Place, will help skewer and grill 3,000 pounds of pork tenderloin for the 46th annual "Our Big Fat Greek Festival" May 7th and 8th at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 573 N. Highland.
Like many of the nearly 200 volunteers who begin cooking in February for this event, the festival has been part of Vergos' and Taras' lives since they were children. Their mothers and members of the church's ladies auxiliary began the tradition, which has grown to about 9,000 festivalgoers.
"The ladies were the big backbone of this; they still are," says Taras. "Even though there's more involved now and the men do all the grilling, the ladies are still the backbone."
Admission is $2. You can get the complete dinner for $10, try the gyros or Greek pizzas that are sold separately, or take advantage of the drive-thru for lunch and dinner.
"It's a great time to come at lunch and bring your co-workers," says Kathy Zambelis, a volunteer who also grew up in the church.
A live band will play music and the children's Athenian Dance Troupe will perform.
Before leaving the festival, stop by the Pastry Shop to take home some desserts or the cookbook It's Greek to Me. The Marketplace will sell clothing, art, pottery, and jewelry imported from Greece. Athens Olympics shirts will also be available.
Father Paul Christy will conduct three tours of the sanctuary and offer a brief history of the Greek Orthodox Church at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The event will be held rain or shine from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until the dancing stops.
"Bring your dancing shoes so you don't have to feel guilty about all the food you eat," advises Zambelis.
Here's your chance for once to tell Mom to clean her plate. Mother's Day is May 9th, so take her to brunch.
At Equestria, 3165 Forest Hill-Irene Road, Chef Kevin Rains and his staff will prepare a buffet, complete with omelet and crepe stations and tables laden with fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, and pastries. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for adults and $9.95 for children. Call 869-2663 for reservations.
The beautifully restored 19th-century church Seasons at White Church,196 N. Main St. in Collierville, will serve a three-course prix fixe menu at 11 a.m., 1, and 2:30 p.m. The cost is $20 per adult and $11 per child. Make reservations by calling 854-6433.
Jim's Place, 5560 Shelby Oaks Drive, will offer a special lunch menu with selections of steak, seafood, and Greek cuisine from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Prices range from $16 to $19. For more information, call 388-7200.
Paulette's, 2110 Madison Avenue, will feature a selection of eight entrÇes, including some special additions to the brunch menu -- lobster and Jarlsburg cheese omelets, ham palascinta, and crab meat and spinach crepes. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prices range from $13 to $24 per person. Call 726-5128 for reservations.
Also on Overton Square, Boscos Squared, 2120 Madison, will open early at 10 a.m. EntrÇes are priced between $6 and $13, and Mom will receive a rose. The Joyce Cobb Trio will start performing at 11:30 a.m.
Downtown at The Peabody, Mom can choose between the annual buffet-style brunch in the Continental Ballroom for $40.05 for adults and $16.09 for children, including tax, or the three-course prix-fixe menu in the hotel's Capriccio Grill, which costs $29.95 for adults and $12.95 for children under 12. Call 529-4000 for reservations.
To really make Mom -- and daughter -- feel like royalty, make a weekend of it with a traditional English tea at the Mallory-Neely House, 652 Adams on May 8th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy games on the lawn and a proper tea complete with lace tablecloths, scones, finger sandwiches, and an assortment of desserts. Call 523-1484 for reservations.