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Gourmet’s delight
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 What a bargain!

Food from 11 of Savannah’s finest restaurants with a selection of wines from around the world will be presented at the Savannah International Food & Wine Festival. And the price is a mere $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.

But there’s no need to feel guilty about such indulgence because it’s all for a good cause. The event benefits the St. Barbara’s Philoptochos Society, Chapter No. 5019, of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church.

The festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 9 from 4-7 p.m. at the St. Paul’s Hellenic Center, 14 W. Anderson St. It’s being organized by Diane Rousakis.

“This is our fourth annual festival,” Rousakis says. “We started our chapter here about four years ago.”

Organizing the festival is a natural for Rousakis. “I’ve been in the wine business over 25 years,” she says. “I’ve got connections with the suppliers. They’re coming from Atlanta and all over to help pour for this event.”

Local restaurants are eager to participate, Rousakis says. “Everyone is so generous,” she says. “People want to help. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

A lot of coordination is required to make the festival a success, but the effort is well worth it, Rousakis says. “People don’t realize it’s the largest women’s philanthropic organization in the world,” she says.

The Philoptochos Society was established in 1931 by Archbishop Athenagoras as an official branch of the Greek Orthodox Church. It’s purpose was helping those in need -- at that time, mostly Greek immigrants. Today, the Philoptochos Society is dedicated to helping people of all faiths all over the world.

The local chapter has 40 members and nationally, there are more than 9,000 members. Proceeds from the food and wine festival will benefit the local chapter’s scholarship fund and the local, regional and national charities it supports.

Participating restaurants include the Olympia Cafe, Elizabeth on 37th, Mary’s Seafood and Steaks, the Cobblestone Conch House, Cosentino’s, Fernando’s of Martha’s Vineyard, the Toucan Cafe, the Riverhouse, Vic’s on the River, the Pirates’ House and the Mansion on Forsyth.

More than 50 wines will be presented to complement the food. Representatives from the participating wineries, which are located in California, Spain, Washington State, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, will be on hand to talk about each wine.

Stamata Karfakis is a member of the society. “We have a scholarship we give out every year to a senior in our Sunday school,” she says.

“The other part goes to charities,” Karfakis says. “Our church will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary in June 2007. Some money will go to that.”

The festival has grown considerably over the years.

“Our first year, a lot of the women made Greek food,” Karfakis says.

“This year, the restaurants will do the cooking,” she says. “Last year, the festival got big. We are trying to get a lot more people to come to it.”


 The Savannah International Food & Wine Fest will be held Sat. Sept. 9 from 4-7 p.m. at  the St. Paul’s Hellenic Center, 14 W. Anderson St. Advance tickets are available at the church office, most area package stores and wine shops, and all participating restaurants. For information, call Diane Rousakis at 441-7444 or the church office at 236-8256.