GOCSA’s new Neoléa initiative host Ikarian-inspired inaugural event

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On May 26, the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia’s (GOCSA) new initiative known as “Neoléa” held their inaugural event alongside the Pan-Ikarian Brotherhood of SA. The event, held over two and a half hours, transported participants to the beautiful island of Ikaria through a guided culinary experience of the art of traditional Ikarian cooking.

The event was inspired by the traditional cookbook of Irini Germanos, a trailblazing woman who left an undeniable impact on the Australian cultural and culinary scene, paving the way through her restaurants and media presence to champion authentic Greek food. 

Irini’s cookbook titled “A Taste of Greek Life & Cooking” contains traditional recipes inspired by the Ikarian identity.

Cookbook of Irini Germanos - Inspiring the event
Cookbook of Irini Germanos – Inspiring the event. All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Peter Tantalos

The Honourable Chris Kourakis (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of SA) and Tina Germanos (Founder of Kitchenhand, a food company inspired by Ikarian diets promoting longevity and fulfilment) were the culinary guides for the event, sharing and demonstrating two recipes from Irini’s cookbook.

Neoléa: A new intergenerational initiative

Neoléa (being the Greek word for ‘Youth’) is an initiative dedicated to supporting, celebrating, and connecting the next generation of Greek Australians to each other and to their cultural heritage.

Chair of the Neoléa Committee, Anastasia Mavrides, welcomed everyone and explained that Neoléa was born “out of this innate desire to connect with our cultural identity and heritage in a more authentic way and explore what it means to not only be Greek but Greek Australian.”

“[Our] aim is to contribute to build a vibrant future that honours the legacy of our ancestors.”

Anastasia Mavrides (Chair of Neoléa) launching the Neoléa initiative
Anastasia Mavrides (Chair of Neoléa) launching the Neoléa initiative

Neoléa will be a source for the GOCSA to establish new youth initiatives, promote intergenerational dialogue, encourage language preservation, and forge meaningful community connections.

The Syllogo Initiative: Preserving cultural heritage

As part of Neoléa’s journey, Anastasia introduced their first project, “The Syllogo Initiative.”

The purpose of The Syllogo Initiative is to support local Greek clubs and associations by showcasing their unique region and celebrating the people who are part of that legacy.

Their stated aims through this initiative is to, through a series of collaborative events, “preserve and share cultural knowledge to connect and engage future generations.”

Anastasia explained that, “Syllogoi played a significant role in the early years of migration and helped shape a multicultural Australia. They were traditionally established by migrants to provide a home away from home. Syllogoi were a place for new arrivals, with shared heritage and values, to connect and socialise – a space where they could embrace a sense of community and belonging.”

Dr Yianni Cartledge, recent PhD graduate, discussed the deep-rooted history of the Pan-Ikarian brotherhood and the Ikarian community in SA.

“The Pan-Ikarian Brotherhood of Australia was incorporated in 1958… with 35 attendees… Since then, it has been the most consistently active Greek diaspora communities in SA…” he explained.

“Earliest recorded Ikarian in South Australian arrived and settled in Port Pirie in 1910, beginning a chain of migration of Ikarians to Port Pirie in the 1910’s and 20’s…

“By the end of WWII, over 250 Ikarians had migrated to Australia, nearly 200 of those were settled in SA. Since the mass migration after the war and due to the Greek Civil War, this led to numbers necessary to establish the Ikarian Bortherhood.”

A Taste of Ikaria: Hands-on cooking demonstration

Following the formal launch, participants gathered their cooking supplies and the demonstration began. The first recipe demonstrated was Krousta, a traditional homemade pastry known for its thin and delicate texture. Mr Kourakis and Ms Germanos began by introducing the history and significance of Krousta and Hortopita (green leaf pie) in Ikarian culture.

Neoléa

They emphasised the importance of using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which are central to the authenticity and flavour of these traditional dishes, and not leaving any part of vegetable to waste. Mr Kourakis and Ms Germanos explained the significance of each step, and visited participants tables to ensure each table was achieving the right pasty consistency.

All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Peter Tantalos

Attendees were guided along by Mr Kourakis and Ms Germanos, following their processes of kneading, mixing and rolling their own Krousta. Once everyone had their own Krousta to take home, Mr Kourakis and Ms Germanos prepared the stuffing mixture, filling the room with enticing aroma’s, transporting everyone to the kitchens of Ikaria.

To conclude the event, Mr Kourakis and Ms Germanos were joined on a Q&A panel by the President of the Pan-Ikarian Brotherhood of SA, George Gronthos, moderated by Neoléa. During this panel discussion, Hortopita was served to all attendees to sample the finished product as envisaged by Irini’s recipie. The discussion focused on the history of the Ikarian community, the journey of the community to present day and strategies of how the Neoléa of SA can ensure the culture is maintained for generations to come.

Panel discussion with Chief Justice Kourakis, Tina Germanos and President of Pan-Ikarian Brotherhood George Gronthos
Panel discussion with Chief Justice Kourakis, Tina Germanos and President of Pan-Ikarian Brotherhood George Gronthos

As attendees left, they carried with them not only the recipes and techniques for Krousta and Hortopita Ikarias, but also a renewed sense of optimism for the future of Hellenic culture in SA. The event was more than just a cooking demonstration; it was a celebration of community, and the timeless traditions of Ikaria – demonstrating the power of food in bringing people together and preserving cultural traditions.

*The Neoléa committee consists of Anastasia Mavrides (Chair), Mikayla Bolkus, Chloe Kourakis, George Foumakis, Chloe Katopodis and Sophia Zavlagka.

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