Celebrate Tsiknopempti in Chicago with Kalofagas

Greek-Canadian Chef, Blogger and Cookbook Author Peter Minaki of Kalofagas will host a special Tsiknopempti Celebration in Chicago.

Kalofagas Supper Club comes to Chicago

Read on to learn about the Tsikonopempti tradition, the upcoming Kalofagas Supper Club in Chicago, and how you can win a pair of tickets to the event!


By: Peter Minaki

Tsiknopempti: Part of Carnival Celebrations

Greeks have been celebrating Carnival since ancient times. It is believed to have begun as a way of worshipping Dionysos, God of Wine and Feasts. It took place in spring, as Dionysos also symbolized rebirth after winter. In more modern times, Apokries (apokreas) – literally without meat — is what we call this feasting period, as we say goodbye to meat in preparation for Lent. In Latin terms, the word “Carnival” is similar — it is a compound word: carne/meat and vale/goodbye.


Traditionally, Apokries begins 10 weeks before Orthodox Easter and ends on the weekend before “Clean Monday/Katheri Deftera”, the first day of Lent. The parades, costumes, feasting and drinking all have their roots in ancient celebrations. Apokries begins on a Saturday with the opening of the “Triodion”. This derives from the fact that during this season the Canons only contain three odes instead of the usual nine.


The Triodion is chanted beginning on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, marking the beginning of the Pre-Lenten period , through Holy Saturday. The following week is a fast-free week and takes us to Tsiknopempti or Burnt Thursday.


In Greece and in Greek communities around the world, an array of grilled meats are served, as well as decadent side dishes. You may find the occasional katsarola (pot) with stewed meat but again, “kreas (meat) is king”.  People dress in costumes, parade through the streets and hop from bar-to-bar, taverna-to-taverna. They’ll be “dancing in the streets”!


Popular Tsiknopempti celebrations take place in Xanthi in Thrace, Naoussa in Macedonia, Tirnavo in Thessaly, Galaxidi in central Greece, and Rethymnon, Crete. However, the biggest celebration takes place in the city of Patras, boasting the largest and most extravagant parade and revelry of them all.




Tsiknopempti Kalofagas Supper Club Chicago
Tsiknopempti is the last time meat may be consumed before Lent. Celebrations abound during this “festival of meat”, as the Carnival period comes to a close. COURTESY KALOFAGAS



Tsiknopempti 2016 in Chicago

I’m excited to be returning to Chicago for a very special edition of the Kalofagas Supper Club, celebrating Tsiknopempti, on Thursday, March 3rd at Avli Estiatorio in Winnetka, IL. Avli Owner and Consulting Chef Louie Alexakis I have come up with a sumptuous dinner with an array of meat dishes, exotic sides, and Greek wines and spirits from Diamond Wine Importers and Distinctive Imports.


RSVP today, as seating is limited. Call 847.446.9300. Avli Estiatorio is located in The Laundry Mall, 566 Chestnut, Winnetka, IL. Click to read about Avli Estiatorio as well as Louie’s story. Avli is considered one of the best restaurants in the Chicagoland area.



Learn to Make Phyllo

Before heading back to Toronto, Peter hosted a phyllo-making workshop in Lincoln Park.



Peter Minaki KalofagasPeter Minaki is a proud Greek-Canadian and the creator of the popular “Kalofagas – Greek Food & Beyond” food blog. Kalofagas is the Greek word for “gourmet”. Peter started the blog to introduce the world to the delicious depths of Greek cuisine. Known for adding twists to his recipes, Peter balances his posts between traditional, modernized, and his own unique recipes. Gathering inspiration from his yearly trips to Greece, Peter endlessly promotes the diversity of Greek cuisine. Living in Toronto and having a curious spirit, he refers to himself as “a tourist in his own town”. He welcomes every opportunity to try new foods and different cuisines.

He’s published two cookbooks, Everything Mediterranean (2nd edition) and The Big Book of Mediterranean Recipes.

Peter is a frequent contributor to Greece’s Free Press Gastronomy website, InsideToronto.com and has appeared on TV cooking segments in Greece and in Canada. His recipes have been featured in Canadian Living Magazine (Canada), OPA magazine (Australia), National Herald (US), Stahl magazine (Hungary), and Ensemble Vacations magazine (Canada).

He hosts and cooks for the “Kalofagas Greek Supper Club” in Canada (and recently as guest chef for a sold out dinner in Manhattan). These monthly supper clubs are casual and intimate gatherings that feature regional Greek food and wines. The supper club has proved to be popular with both Greeks and people who just want to be Greek for a night! Peter teaches Greek cooking classes, does private catering and pop-ups at venues around Toronto such as the Toronto Underground Market, Toronto Harbourfront and local restaurants.

Updated: This event has already taken place.

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