I recently attended the inaugural Northwest Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference. It was an energizing day spent with over 600 women from the Diocese of Gary, sharing friendship, faith, fun and FOOD!
We enjoyed listening to several speakers, including Bishop Donald J. Hying and Father Leo Patalinghug. What was a bit different, at least from my past retreat experiences, was that part of Father Leo’s presentation occurred while he was cooking.
One of the perks of the retreat was that 10 of us would be chosen at random to enjoy lunch with Bishop Hying, Father Leo, and Father Kevin Huber. How fun! My hope for the past several weeks was to be chosen to enjoy that lunch.
Since I love everything about food–I write about it, eat it, cook it, coach on it, buy it, study it, etc., I really wanted to meet a priest who had competed in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay and WON!
As Father Leo shared words of inspiration and faith, he chopped, sautéed, simmered and stirred. He made penne pasta with vodka sauce.
When it came time to draw the names, I expressed to my friends how much I REALLY wanted to be chosen. As Father Leo called the names and I heard mine, it was as if I’d won the lottery. As far as I was concerned, I had.
The penne pasta was fabulous! It was accompanied with a green salad, boneless chicken breast, bread, butter, sparkling water and red wine. Lunch with my new friends was so much fun, I had to share the story with you.
Father Leo is the driving force behind a movement known as Plating Grace, founded on the belief that shared meals strengthen family relationships and marriages. He travels widely as an inspirational speaker, is an award-winning cook, and has a TV show, all while being a priest.
I left the retreat with nourished body and soul, and two cookbooks written by Father Leo: Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life. He personalized them for me, and took a selfie of us.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, he beat Bobby with his “Fusion Fajitas” back in June 2009. The recipe is in Grace Before Meals, along with many others that sound delicious and are quick to put together.
This week, I challenge you to throwdown a simple meal and share it with family and/or friends. And remember, it’s about much more than the food.
“In my experience, nothing creates a better environment for a great
conversation than time shared in the kitchen.” – Fr. Leo