Diners at 2012's Canyonlands Community Recycling fundraising dinner enjoy the bounty of the buffet [Courtesy photo]

The Grand Center of Moab will undergo a stunning transformation on Saturday, March 1 around 7 p.m. as diners at Canyonland Community Recycling’s Feast of the Mediterranean dinner are whisked away to the idyllic climes of Syria, Turkey and Greece by an evening celebrating the traditional cultures of each.

In its third annual fundraising dinner, the event will have a “slight shift in geographic focus,” CCR Program Director Abby Scott said.

“This year’s event will have many elements of the previous fundraising dinners, including authentic, exotic food that can’t normally be found in Moab, and live dance performances,” she said. “At the event this year, the menu will feature Greek, Syrian and Turkish foods.”

Family-style appetizers will kick off the evening as the Salt Lake City-based dance troupe, Dionysios Dancers, perform a short piece. A choice of vegetarian or chicken entree will follow as the main course, accompanied by a selection of vegetarian side dishes representing the countries of honor including favorites such as hummus, tzatziki, Turkish red lentil soup, fresh Greek salad, Syrian stuffed grape leaves, Greek lemon chicken, batsaria (a phyllo-less Spanakopita), baklava and more. The dancers will perform again as dessert is served to finish off the night.

Dimitri Cayias, president of the Dionysios Dance Group, said he is excited for the performance.

“This is Dionysios’ first-ever performance in Moab, so we are eagerly anticipating it, and hope it won’t be the last,” he said. “The most enjoyable part about being in Dionysios is the friendship and performing. We’ve all grown up together practically since birth, and to be able to dance the dances of our ancestors with each other while keeping the culture going strong is the most rewarding aspect of Dionysios.”

The group was formed in 1972, and as one of the oldest performing groups in Utah. It boasts current members who are children of some of the founding members. The self-taught group is comprised entirely of college-age students of Greek descent. In addition to performing, it also acts as a parent group to multiple youth dance groups within the Salt Lake community.

“Many past or present members teach the youth in an effort to foster stronger dancing skills and to preserve our Greek heritage in America,” Cayias said. “Dancing with Dionysios brings with it a great honor for many participants because of the rich history behind the name.”

CCR board member Ali Lerch will be one of a handful of guest chefs featured at the dinner, and is “delighted to share (her) family recipes with the community.”

Attendees will surely enjoy Lerch’s signature dish prepared a recipe passed down from her 100-percent Syrian grandfather, vegetarian stuffed-grape leaves.

“Every time I make them, I remember my Grandpa saying, ‘These taste just like my mom made them,’” she said.

Canyonlands Community Recycling puts on Mediterranean feast fundraiser

“This year’s event will have many elements of the previous fundraising dinners, including authentic, exotic food that can’t normally be found in Moab and live dance performances,”  

When: 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 1st 2014

Where:  Grand Center 182 N. 500 West

Cost: $40; tickets are still available by contacting CCR at 210-4996 or via email at ccr@moabrecycles.org