December 13, 2012

Opa! Food For Thought Symposia at The Black Olive Kicks Off with a Bang

Allison Righter, MSPH, RD

Allison Righter, MSPH, RD

Program Officer, Eating for the Future

Center for a Livable Future

A selection of fish at the Black Olive

When it comes to food, the Greeks simply get it.

For them, food is so much more than just fuel; it is a way of life, a philosophy, a way of bringing people together to share fresh, local fare and most importantly, good company. Never have I experienced anything quite like this in the States until dining at The Black Olive, a fine Greek dining restaurant in Fells Point, whose mission extends far beyond serving authentic and organic Greek cuisine.

Owner Stelios Spiliadis is a good friend of CLF, and he and his family have been introducing Baltimore not only to their Greek culture, but also to their passion for health and wellness. Their hopes of inspiring real change through the power of good food have been spreading like wildfire.

Monday night marked the beginning of their newest venture, a “Food for Thought Symposia” series, hosted at the Olive Room on the top floor of the Inn at the Black Olive, and co-sponsored by the Institute for Integrative Health and CLF. This introduction  kicked off what will be a monthly series of special community events, to start officially in January, and inspired by the ancient Greek ritual of gathering together to enjoy good food, fine wine, and communal conversations as a way to provide sustenance for intellectual and cultural growth.

The focus of the symposia will be on healthy food and well-being, and each month Stelios will invite inspiring experts from Baltimore’s intellectual, artistic, and technological circles to lead a presentation and discussion on the topic at hand. Through this contemporary approach towards the joining of minds and palates, the Black Olive seeks to resurrect this ancient Greek forum as “an important crucible for the forging of friendships, alliances, and community,” he says.

If Monday night’s kick-off event was any sort of indication of what is to come with this series, then we are in for a real treat. A celebration of the health-promoting cuisine and culture of the Greek Island of Crete, the evening ensued with a tasting of exceptional Cretan wines; a multi-course, authentic Cretan meal, prepared by executive chef Pauline Spiliadis; a book-signing by the internationally known advocate of Cretan food and lifestyle, Nikki Rose; and an engaging dialogue among guests from diverse backgrounds across Baltimore and Maryland. It’s amazing how fast four and half hours can fly by when enjoying good food, good wine, and good conversations, as true Greeks do.

In addition to this symposia series, Stelios hopes to extend his mission even further by hosting regular Greek cooking classes with his wife Pauline (who is also the executive chef of the Black Olive), and also by engaging with Baltimore City youth to promote healthy food from a young age. On this front, Stelios plans to sponsor a handful of students from Dunbar High School to participate in the cooking classes and symposia series in hopes of “changing the brains and the palettes of our youth.”

With this array of initiatives, Stelios and his whole family at the Black Olive are fearlessly and creatively bringing their Greek values and passion for healthy food outside the walls of their restaurants to facilitate positive changes in the Baltimore community, of which they and their two restaurants are a vital part. We are thrilled to be included in these initiatives and support Stelios and the Black Olive on their good food mission. Opa!

Photo: Chris Stevens

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