"I may look like a Templar, but I'm not," said Nicholas Goulevitch. "I'm Alexsander Nevsky, of the Knights Hospilitar."
Goulevitch was dressed in gleaming metal armor and standing guard in front of the annual Russian Food Festival at the St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church on Friday. And though he may not have been a Templar, the food he was guarding was no slouch in the treasure department.
Inside were giant trays full of rich stroganoff, mountains of fresh baked pirogi and so much borsht, no one even could even say how many it would serve.
"I just prepare for the worst," said head cook Elena DeYoung. "I would say 1,500, but every year, it gets bigger, and every year, it's the same story: I'm looking in the fridge on Friday night and thinking we don't have enough for the next day."
When the festival started seven years ago, it just sold frozen food for people to reheat at home. But according to Father David Moser, it slowly added more and more hot and ready food until they simply gave up on frozen altogether.
"It's just what people seemed to want," Moser said.
Moser said that the congregation of 75-100 spends portions of the entire year preparing for the festival, but that things really ramp up around Christmastime. Since March, he said that there have been people cooking at the church at least three days a week. But that's nothing compared to DeYoung's schedule. She told BW she and her team have been at the church cooking round the clock for the last three days.
"We go home for maybe three hours in the middle of the night, shower and then come back," she said. "I don't even know who will show up, just that there will be help."
DeYoung said that she is able to pull this off because she is just a food optimist who learned to cook in volume by having a large family.
"Every birthday or holiday meant cooking for 30 or 40 people," she said. "This is not much different."
Moser said the event is great for community outreach and sharing Russian culture. But it's really about much more.
"Food has its own spiritual dimensions," said Moser. "We've been cooking for months for this food festival and you know what we're going to do the day afterwards? We're going to eat."
The Russian Food Festival runs through Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at the St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, 872 N. 29th St. in Boise.