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Dinner Discussions: Memorable Meals

Posted: January 06, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo

We're only a few days into 2016 but the blessings of 2015 are still fresh in my mind and heart - as long as I'm willing to take time and remember these blessings in prayer!  The gift of memory is an important part of our faithful foodie movement.  Yes, memory IS a gift for our faith!  

Consider how Jesus said, "Take, eat and drink: This is my body; this is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me." Food - how it smells and tastes - can inspire great memories of important events, including our childhood experiences and even important people in our lives.  Food and faithful remembering go hand in hand.  But in our busy lives, we easily forget past blessings, and therefore are prone to fear that the blessings of the past may not come in the future.  And so I encourage all of our Grace Before Meals members to take time and consider the ways that God has blessed you and trust that His blessings are without end in the coming year.

Here are some of my beautiful memories of 2015 - in no particular order.  FYI: I've given up on trying to do a top 10 because honestly, there are too many experiences, meals, and memories that would compete for # 1 on my list.

Enjoy and trust that you were and are in my prayers throughout the year!

1) Cooking with my family! It's always a pleasure to share family meals. Even better when we cook together!

Budding Chef Emanuel Joseph aka "ManJo" made some awesome cream of crab soup for the Holidays, while younger brother Jared photobombs!

2) Meeting Fantastic Chefs, Restauranteurs, and people while filming my TV Show Savoring Our Faith each Thursday at 5:00pm EDT on EWTN.

Meeting the brother and sister team of Sokolowski's Restaurant in Cleveland, keeping the Polish Food tradition alive while also receiving a highly coveted James Beard award for Life Time Achievement.

3) Having my Mom and Dad as recipe testers for my new menu items.

For special events where I am a key note speaker and also guest chef, I try to wow an audience of food lovers with special menu items.  If it meets Mom's and Dad's approval, then I know it's good enough to serve the world!  Thanks Mom and Dad for your loving support.

4) Feeding hungry young souls with God's Message of Love!

As a speaker for world wide youth organizations like Steubenville University, I'm so excited to see how many young people respond to God's message.  They are HUNGRY for God's love.  I realize that it all depends on how we "plate" the message.  Remember, we have GOOD NEWS so let's help others to taste and see the goodness of the Lord by presenting (i.e., plating) God's message well.

5) Amazing Travel opportunities!

A pilgrimage to another country is truly life changing, which is why I'm leading 4 trips to Rome next year for the Year of Mercy.  In 2015, I had great opportunities to make pilgrimages in Spain, Italy, Canada and even the Philippines.  To join one of our trips this year, CLICK HERE.

6) Cooking Channel Episode of Holy and Hungry

What a great opportunity to showcase some delicious food on the Cooking Channel with world famous actress, TV co-host, and comedian, Sherri Shepherd. 

7) Meeting super-friends and super-fans

This past year I spoke at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) with about 25,000 people at the Key Note Talk I gave on the first night. While all of the people I met were great, one in particular stood out!  He's Jonah, a super great guy and also a super fan.  But I had to tell him, I don't have "fans"; I prefer to call them "fams" - which is short, for "family!"

8) Cooking for a Cause - at the US Embassy to the Holy See in Vatican City, Rome.

This past year, I was asked by the US Embassy to the Holy See to help prepare a meal with a local Roman celebrity chef, Matteo.  Mr. Ambassador and Mrs. Hackett sampled the food that I would prepare for a local convent that assists young women involved in human trafficking.  It provided great opportunities to show the good work of the US Embassy to the Holy See while also raising awareness to one of the many convents that promote the dignity of human life by housing, feeding and protecting the vulnerable among us.  To learn more, watch the following video.
9)  Filipino Food Connections

While filming my show in the Philippines this past year, I had a chance to return to my Filipino Roots, cook some amazing food, and meet some up and coming stars of the Filipino Food Scene, Chef Marth from England, now living in the Philippines with his wife, and Chef "Dimples".

10) The simple pleasures of life.

I think our modern food movement can get caught up in all the "fuss" when it comes to food. But the real chefs and taste-tested foodies know that the best food is the kind that satisfies the soul.  That's why I definitely wanted to say that a highlight of 2015 was the simple pleasure of eating simply fresh products (in this case, carbonara - bacon, egg, cheese) but assembled perfectly!  

This little stroll down 2015's memory lane has left me feeling ever so grateful to God for this amazing opportunity to be a "food chaplain" of sorts. As the host and founder of Grace Before Meals, I am also so grateful to my team of faithful friends and all of you for making this one of the most unique apostolates for the Catholic Church.  Talk about thinking "outside the box!" -  we are living and acheiving the New Evangelization as the Church intends!

Be sure to stay in touch for all of the exciting things happening in 2016!

Let us pray:  (And, yes, I'm using the Grace AFTER Meals, as a way to say thanks for the feast of memorable 2015 experiences!)

We give you thanks O Lord, for these and all Thy benefits, which we have received through Christ our Lord.  And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace!  Amen

For Discussion:  (Please post your response as it helps us grow our movement and helps us to stay in touch!)

(1) What are some of your favorite 2015 memories?
(2)  What do you look forward to the most in 2016?
(3)  What was your favorite food of this past year? And if you have the recipe and a pic, please share!