Greek Festival’s baklava can be made at home | Food and cooking

Q • My husband and I love getting the baklava every year at the Greek Festival in West County. Do you think they would share the recipe? — Kelsea Bucheit, Manchester

A • Baklava, the delightful dessert beloved for centuries in Greece, remains a festival favorite at the annual St. Louis County Greek Festival held each year at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Town and Country over Memorial Day weekend.

With its buttery layers of flaky phyllo filled with a crumble of finely chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon and honeyed syrup finish, this centuries-old sweet is a modern-day favorite of festival guests.

This year, as in the previous two years, the festival will feature a full menu of Greek specialties that can be ordered online through their website and picked up curbside from May 27 to 30. This year, the festival marks its 40th anniversary. Diane Sieckmann volunteers at the festival.

She doesn’t have an official title. “I’m kind of an assistant to the festival chairman, Greg Simos,” she says. “We have people who run each of the different areas. If they have a problem, they call me.”

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The food and desserts for the festival are prepared by volunteer members of the church with time-tested recipes they’ve perfected over the years. “We use the same recipes for consistency year to year,” Sieckmann says. When asked if professional bakers assisted the volunteers with baking, she had a ready answer. “Greek women are professional bakers, and you can quote me on that. When people came to this country, and they needed a way to raise money for their parishes, they cooked and baked. People were, and still are, interested in Greek food.”

The money raised by the festival supports the work of the church, which includes youth groups, an active men’s group, and the women who cook and socialize at the church. The church’s charitable arm also contributes to veterans groups from the funds raised on Memorial Day. “We honor them, these people who sacrificed for our country, in the best way we can,” she says.

Although Greek food is a great draw to bring folks to the festival, she says it goes deeper than that. “One thing that’s very important to us is we are able to share our culture with others. It’s more easily done when the festival happens in person because we have Greek music, dancers in costume and volunteers who often have one-on-one conversations with people. They can ask questions. We have a marketplace where they can buy things, and we also have a bookstore. The festival is a way people can get to know our culture and understand our presence in community.”

Where • Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 1755 Des Peres Road, Town and Country

More info • 314-966-2255; stlouisgreekfest.com