Demetri (left) and George Maurakis work out of a kitchen in their home. Photo by Isaac Harrell
Many 14- and 15-year-olds spend their summers at camp or on vacation. But during much of the next three months, George and Demetri Maurakis will be preparing and selling baked goods for the third summer in a row. The teenage brothers run a home-based, licensed bakery in Midlothian called Maurakis Bros. "People think that since we're young, it's not us baking," says George, 15. When they set up at farmers markets, he and Demetri, 14, bring a big picture of themselves working in the kitchen for proof. Customers are usually surprised, George adds. "So they would buy it and be like, ‘Oh, this is delicious.'"
The bakery started five years ago when George organized a bake sale with a classmate to help a friend who has diabetes. The effort raised $315.25 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the sale was such a hit that George began taking orders for holidays and other occasions. Because of all the positive feedback, George's mother suggested that he turn his hobby into a business, and Demetri joined him in 2009. Though their parents, Penelope and Eugene Maurakis, paid their expenses in the beginning, the brothers now make enough money to buy their own ingredients and supplies. They've also donated some of their profits to Greek Youth of America and other charities.
Their products include traditional Greek baklava, chocolate biscotti and two varieties of a cookie-like Greek pastry called koulourakia — a buttery version topped with sesame seeds and another topped with cinnamon sugar. All of the recipes that they use have been passed down for at least four generations, says Penelope Maurakis. Both her family and that of her husband emigrated from Greece.
In addition to celebrating their heritage through the pastries they make, George and Demetri perform dances and help with food preparation and sales at the annual Richmond Greek Festival, set for May 31 to June 3 at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Malvern Avenue.
Because the brothers are busy with homework and activities during the school year, most of their business occurs during the summer at the Huguenot-Robious and Powhatan farmers markets, though they also take orders through their website (maurakisbros.com). Their weekly schedule starts on Sunday with one or two baking days. They take Tuesday off, then it's back to work on Wednesday to package the baked goods and prepare them for sale. On Thursday, they take half of their products to the Huguenot-Robious market at 10 a.m., then leave at 1:30 p.m. to pick up the rest and prepare and go to the Powhatan market around 4 p.m. Their day ends at about 7 p.m. when the market closes.
This year, their lineup also includes two new Greek cookies, amygdalota and kourambiethe, as well as tsoureki, a sweet, spiced bread. Describing their baking days, Demetri says, "It's never boring … we always crank the music up on the stereo so the radio is blasting while we're making food."
His mother can vouch for that: "The house pretty much shakes when they're baking."