Food Perspectives: Katerina Georgallas, Baklava Couture

Photo Credit:  Baklava Couture

There are many places to satisfy a sweet tooth in Washington, DC – but very few feature the deliciousness that is Greek pastry.

That’s why District Style was thrilled to discover Baklava Couture at the Dupont Farmers’ Market. Locally owned and operated by Katerina Georgallas, Baklava Couture features both traditional and modern takes on baklava and other sweet Greek delicacies.

We spoke with Georgallas about the inspiration and work behind Baklava Couture and what’s next for her business.

Q: How would you describe Greek pastries to those who might not have tried any before?
A: Greek pastries fall into several categories, two being pites (or pies) and siropiasta (or syrupped). There are also lots of styles of cookies and cakes. Greeks have traditionally used locally sourced ingredients for flavorings, which is why there tends to be a lot of nuts, honey and cinnamon in our sweets.

Q: What were some of your favorite Greek pastries growing up?
A: I really enjoyed the cookies like Koulourakia, a braided butter cookie we would make around Easter time and Kourabiedes, a buttery almond cookie dusted in powdered sugar. Both cookies are available in our cookie collection at market.

Q: What inspired you to switch from interior design to the pastry business?
A: It took me a long time to decide which direction I wanted to continue. I was catering parties on the side while working full-time with a DC design firm before my layoff. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed myself in the kitchen versus at a desk. I was ready to be my own boss and start creating and forming my own brand. I’ve always been open for a good challenge and starting a business on your own is definitely one way to feel crazy at times, but then also feel greatly rewarded.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced starting out?
A: Figuring it all out – my menu, where I would sell, what paperwork and licensing was needed, etc. I experimented with many baklava flavors at first, which is what inspired “couture” baklava, like haute chocolates. I had everything from PB+J to Raspberry Sage to Hazelnut Espresso baklava. Forming the LLC in 2011 until 2013, I spent time seeing what worked and what didn’t as far as flavors, presentation, and who my customers were. In 2013, I finally went full-time with the business and began having a solid product and overall system. We also decided to add the other sweets to the menu like cookies and cakes to make it more of an all around Greek sweet shop. Our business has ripened into more traditional sweets with some of my personal taste modifications, plus a couture baklava flavor of the week.

Q: Baklava is a notoriously finicky pastry to make. What are some of the things you’ve discovered about baklava – especially as you’ve developed new twists and flavors to it?
A: Baklava is finicky and I don’t even know how I’ve lasted this long! (laughs) I’ve found ways to make it work for prepping on a more regular basis. My speed has developed tremendously and I can now get through a lot of dough before it dries out. We specialize in finger/cigar-shaped rolls, which is great for selling at the market, for packaging, and for small party bites. The traditional flat, layered style tends to waste more product when cutting pieces and falls apart easily. I also prefer to have more nuts than dough in my baklava, so the rolls allow for that.

Q: What’s next for Baklava Couture?
A: We are working towards some sort of brick-and-mortar. Not exactly sure when or where, but this year will help us get our portfolio in order so we can begin more serious talks. We love being a part of the FRESHFARM Markets family and our customers there are really the one’s who have helped us continue to develop. We really look forward to their support as we take on any future bakery projects while still being the Greek pastry booth at market.

Baklava Couture products can be ordered online or purchased at several area farmers’ markets. Click here for more information.

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