As the chairwoman of Tucson’s Greek Festival for 22 years, Nancy oversaw recipe preparation, supervised the baking and cooking, as well as organizing and running the event.
Growing up on the East Coast as a second-generation Greek, she developed a love of cooking at an incredibly young age. She has fond memories rolling out the homemade phyllo dough with her yiayia (grandmother) on the kitchen table with a long broom handle, learning authentic Greek cooking and baking from her and in yiayia’s Newburgh, NY restaurants.
Nancy spent the summer of 1969 with her grandparents on their homeland island of Lemnos, where she cooked, baked, chased chickens for dinner, rode donkeys to the beach and enjoyed days with her Greek cousins. Memories she’ll never forget.
An elementary school teacher for 43 years, she’s happiest in the kitchen, watching the Food Network as she cooks. One of her greatest joys is sharing her food with others.
Nancy is teaching with her lifelong friend, Genie Gekas Patterson, with whom she shares a mutual passion of food and cooking.
Genie Gekas Patterson
Genie comes from a long line of restaurant owners and chefs of continental cuisine, growing up in her family’s business, Johnny Gekas’s Palomino Restaurant, a Tucson favorite for 40 years.
Good food is in her blood. Her brother is a master chef and, even in retirement, prepares the best authentic Greek delicacies for family and friends.
Being Greek, Genie has an intense passion for the food of that Mediterranean country. She spent her youth in both her grandmothers’ kitchens, learning to cook traditional dishes the way they were prepared in the old country. As an adult, she created a company that sold a line of Greek spices with names like Aegean Gold and Hades Bite.
From the selection of the savoriest ingredients to applying the exacting standards of proper preparation, Genie demonstrates true artistry in creating outstanding and delicious Greek cuisine.