Food Disciples
Part 1: Discipline  

Originally published November 10, 2010


During a recent break from the seminary, I used my time for “further education.”  While most priests would go to a theological seminar or a spiritual retreat, I went back to cooking school.  Why not?  As Grace Before Meals continues to grow, I have to keep up my culinary skills, while continuing to develop my theological learning as well.   Besides, after dedicating time to class prep and teaching, I needed a bit of a breather from the books, and get my hands into some food. 

Me taste testing Radio Host Ed Norris at the Big Brother / Big Sister benefit event at Raven’s Stadium

For the next three weeks, I will share with you just some of the lessons I learned from my recent cooking class experience. 


Chef Maureen and Mr. Johnson – culinary arts instructors at City College, San Francisco

Since my cooking skills are somewhat developed – at least good enough for cooking with families – I knew I needed something more than the basics.  A chef friend who I met at one of my events extended an invitation to come  “anytime” and experience her unique cooking school program in the heart of downtown San Francisco’s City College.  The hands on program grants certificates for pastry and savory chefs.  This program also gives them a unique perspective in cooking for a student run restaurant called, “The Educated Palate” serving high-end meals at incredible prices.  The experience is invaluable!

Chef Maureen with student, after plating a shrimp scampi with Israeli couscous

I took her up on the offer and found myself learning from the best of teachers:  the students!  There are famous sayings that qualify the unique understanding of teachers as someone who’s always willing to learn.  That’s what I saw in the Head Instructors, Chef Maureen and Pastry Instructor, Chef Bisty.

Chef Bistsy offering plating and design tips for the dessert

Granted, I only experienced 3 days of their classes, but the pedagogy I saw offered the students the greatest lesson of all:  experience.  Experience can be good or bad.  That’s where the instructors were so helpful.  They showed the students the techniques, offered them guidance, and most importantly, they encouraged each student to be disciplined in their learning.

That’s the lesson I had to “learn again!”  Discipline.  We don’t like to experience it, but it’s required for anyone who takes anything seriously.  The students taught me how discipline helps learn to cut, saute, to bake, and even to serve.  Discipline, sometimes a hard lesson to digest requires patience, practice and perseverance.

Recent graduate, Chef Philly offered a class on art carving of vegetables and fruit – a highly technical discipline and art

That “discipline” reminds us that no matter how skilled we are at something, we’re all still learning.  That’s what the word discipline mean.  It means “student”, the Greek word from “disciple.”  These food disciples / culinary students inspired to go return to the basics when it comes to cooking, and more importantly in the practice and ongoing learning of my faith.

While I learned many things, new techniques – especially baking (that’s for next week’s blast) – I was given a beautiful reminder about the humility to learn, the desire to improve, and the repetition of practice in order to master a craft or art.  As true as that is for cooking, the need for discipline is especially true when considering the art of filling the hungers of our heart and souls.

These apple pastries were worth standing in front of a hot oven for hours

Jesus’ closest friends are also called disciples – students.  They were students, learning from Jesus how to love one another.  The greatest lesson they learned just happened to be at the dinner table of the Last Supper. At this sacred meal, they learned the greatest lesson of love through Christ’s sacrifice.

A group of “faithful foodies” and good friends!

Let us pray:  Father, we are not only your children, we are your disciples, students of your law of love.  Despite our inability to grasp all of the information and inspiration you give us each day, help us to digest these lessons with humility and patience.  And as students who continue to learn these life lessons, help us then teach these lessons – not with words but with actions – to those we meet this day.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



This week’s featured recipes:


If you haven’t had a chance to check out with the latest Grace Before Meals webisode, check it out by clicking the link below:


After you finish watching how easy it is to make the two pasta dishes, then you can follow the recipes below for each item. Click on the picture to get the recipe for:



Italian Chicken Pasta with Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes and Onions


Asian Chicken Noodle with Coconut Cream Sauce
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Posted in Blast from the Past, Food for Thought, Past Emails, Recipe-Pasta, Recipes, Savoring Our Faith, Video | 2 Comments »

 Hot Summer Days

This summer is going to be a busy time for me and our Grace Before Meals team.  So starting next week through September, we will be taking advantage of our Blasts from the Past, revisiting our work “back in the day” and preparing for even more great things coming this fall.

Baby “Grace” – our Project Manager’s daughter. I’m sure he can use more time to spend with her and his wife!

Next week, I’m going to Rome for some personal retreat time. I hope to see Pope Francis at a General Audience, connect with friends from the seminary and local restaurants, and enjoy great food.  Trust that I’ll be praying for you.

View of Assisi, where St. Francis was born and is buried.  St. Francis is the patron name of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.


Later on this summer, I’ll be focusing on a few different projects to strengthen my own priestly mission including:  working on improvements for our web communications, filming more episodes, traveling for our live shows, and planing future trips to Rome and the Holy Land!

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome Italy.

With this slight summer break upon us, don’t forget to check our website for great recipe ideas and also reminders about not taking a vacation from your faith. Please do stay in touch and pray for me and our Grace Before Meals team!

Enjoy the Relaxing Summer Days.


Let us pray:  

Father in Heaven, as we all need a time to rest, may this time to focus on the important things of our mission be a fruitful time, a restful time, and a moment to strengthen our relationship with You as our loving God.  May our movement continue to grow, through Your Grace and through the efforts of our global family.  Keep us strong in our conviction to feed our children with only the good things of life, and may we who share in the Eucharistic Banquet be transformed into what we eat: the Body and Blood of Christ.  Amen.

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy.



  • What plans do you have for the summer?

  • Any favorite summer recipes?

  • Any ideas for how our Team can improve our services and communications?

Please leave your comments below.  You are so important to our mission and we value your input.  Please leave your comments or questions below. Have a wonderful summer. 


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Posted in Events, Savoring Our Faith, Video, What's On the Table | 7 Comments »

Posted May 15th, 2013 | Events, From the Feedbag, Uncategorized

Staying Connected!


The communication between our movement and our members humbles me.  Through modern technology, we not only have an opportunity to spread the Good News on a global level, but to stay connected to one another. Using the gift of food to feed our hungers (body, mind, and spirit) and a little technical know-how, we are working to fulfill our important mission: to feed God’s flock.

I recently received a very charming question via Facebook from someone who needed help with pancakes.


To help those are new to our movement, or maybe those who have not had the chance to fully explore our website, I offer a few ideas on how to learn more about what we do, what we’re all about, and how you can be a more active member in our movement.


TV Show

Tune in as I host a ½ hour cooking show called Savoring our Faith on EWTN filled with delicious recipes and soul satisfying inspiration each Sunday at 5:00pm.

Filming in Rome for special Savoring Our Faith Episodes.


Radio Show


Catch me as I team up with hit show comedy writer Tom Leopold for a fun and educational show called, Entertaining Truth on Sirius XM 129 each Thursday at 1:00pm.

At the Sirius XM Studios in NYC.


Social Media


Stay in touch with friends and all the GBM “fam” (i.e. our Grace Before Meals “family”) on Twitter and Facebook. Also check out our YouTube channel for some short cooking videos, highlights of travels, and restaurant reviews.  





Live Shows

Join our movement, to see and taste God’s goodness as we travel the globe doing live cooking demonstrations and presentations.  To book one of these extremely popular events, click here

Me presenting at an event specifically for married couples – a huge hit!




Put the movement in your hands through our books. Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life is dedicated to strengthening families, while Spicing Up Married Life is dedicated to strengthening a couple’s relationship through food. My newest book, coming out in the fall of 2013 or the spring of 2014 will be a theological work on food called, “Food Fight: Salvation History Bite Sized.




Web Presence

Surf our Grace Before Meals website that provides a link to upcoming events, recipes, media, our store, the GBM blog, social media and more.




Check out the restaurant reviews I do for the Catholic Review Newspaper, giving my honest opinion in a column called, “Culinary Confessions.”  




Giveaways & Sweepstakes

Take part in the fun specials we offer at Grace Before Meals, like the recent Valentine Day Recipe Contest.  The Winner Julie Miller received this incredible gift basket, worth over $150. Her reactions to the prize were as follows: 

 “[We] wanted to thank you so much for [the prize]!  What fun to receive it!  Thank you again for having the contest, it was a real surprise to have won.  May God bless you, Fr. Leo and everyone at Grace Before Meals in all you do to help build holy families!

We will hope to be able to do more of these contests as we want to encourage your involvement and let you know that this can be a fun way to help support your family. 

Our Valentines Day Prize Gift Set, featuring the signed copy of Spicing Up Married Life along with ingredients and more to make one of the chapters menus. Julie Miller loved it!


Web Blasts


Sign up for our weekly blasts, giving tips on strengthening family relationships. I answer questions, give recipes, and share faith to satisfy hungry souls. Sign up FOR FREE and join the fun and get access to our recipes!




Keep the Faith

While I enjoy all the work I do with Grace Before Meals, the most important work I do is as a priest, offering the Sacraments of the Catholic Faith. Join me in praying for the Grace Before Meals movement and all of those who are served by it.  Try everyday to give God “permission” to do His work through you.


And so, now that you know of all the ways you can connect and follow our Grace Before Meals mission, here’s how YOU can help!


Spread the Word: purchase the book or materials as gifts; invite our message to your next conference or gathering by booking an event; encourage your family, friends, and church to sign up for our free weekly blasts, or just spread the fun by sharing the videos, leaving comments, and staying in touch with Facebook or Twitter!


Michigan Facebook friends and Twitter “Fam.”


Support the Mission:  Consider sponsoring a weekly or monthly blast.  For a “donation” of $50.00, we can create a banner add or links to our website’s weekly blasts for two weeks.  This donation will help sustain our work, while helping connect your message or business to our thousands of web blast recipients.

Let us pray:  

Jesus, as we continue to grow our movement, we know it will take more than just a priest who cooks on TV.  It will require each member to do his or her part to spread the message and promote the cause.  May our work be blessed by their generous efforts.  And, most importantly Lord, help us to be true instruments of Your peace, evangelizing the world, by our words and actions.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Teens from the Steubenville Youth Conference.


  • How do you evangelize or spread the good news to Jesus? 
  • Have you ever spoken to your parish priest or conference organizers about bringing the GBM message to a venue near you? 
  • What can we, as a movement, do to better reach those hungry souls that need a bit of inspiration each week? 

Your comments and suggestions are big helps to our cause. Post your comments below!

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Posted May 8th, 2013 | Holiday, Menu Inspiration

Mother’s Day Menu

 Moms feed their children from the moment they are conceived in the womb, which is where life begins!  With breastfeeding, a mom continues to naturally give her child sustenance by giving of herself.  And even after a child has learned to fend for themselves, there exists an instinctual desire for a mother to feed her children. I think of my own mother who insists I eat something each time I visit home – even when I’m not hungry! 

Even when I’m doing the cooking, mom has to be there to make sure I’m doing it right.


Mothers also have an ongoing concern about whether or not their children are being fed spiritually. A regular practice of our faith will let her know she has accomplished this task.  By living our faith well, we can also show to our moms we have put ourselves in God’s hands.  For a mom, that’s the best place for her children.  The second best place however, is around the dinner table with her. 

These Religious Sisters in Guam were just like my own mom – always making sure that I was spiritually fed.

In my book,  Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life, I dedicate an entire chapter to moms. The bite sized theological essays, conversation starters, and recipes, help husbands and children show their gratitude to mothers by making them a special breakfast in bed.

How about some French toast with fresh berries for mom this Mother’s Day?

So to make this a special Mother’s Day weekend, be sure to do something special for mom, like making her the suggested menu in my book, and going all together as a family to church.

Mom at one of the family gatherings – always happy when that happens.

CLICK HERE for a few recipe ideas to help celebrate Mother’s Day.  


Me and a brother make a fritatta – a great dish for Mother’s Day. Click the picture to watch.

Recipe for the marinated fresh fruit:  

Recipe: Combine mixed fruit with a 1/4 cup of condensed milk, a 1/4 cup of evaporated milk, the juice of one lemon, and 2 tsp of fresh mint, minced.



For the rest of May, as a way to celebrate mothers, receive a 10% discount and be entered to receive free GBM swag by using the promo code:


when purchasing Grace Before Meals books and aprons, the perfect gifts for loved ones.  

Also, if you share with us your favorite memories as a mom or memories with your mother, you could be featured in our next eBlast and Facebook page to help others see the shining examples of good people that are a part of this movement.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Let us pray:  

Father in Heaven, you gave us our moms as a sign of your love for us.  May we always be grateful for this gift.  May we cherish the dignity of women, and especially those who made great sacrifices to bring life into this world.  Protect all mothers from anxiety for their children, and may our prayers for moms be a sign of our gratitude and love.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



  • What’s the most important lesson you learned from your mom? 
  • What’s the best thing your mom cooked?
  • How can we help to promote and protect the dignity of motherhood? Your questions and comments encourage us to continue our evangelization efforts.Please post your comments below.
Mom eating the famous Fusion Fajitas. Thanks mom for feeding me.  This is the least I can do!

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Posted in Holiday, Menu Inspiration | 2 Comments »

Posted May 1st, 2013 | Dinner Discussion, Feast Days


Feast Day for Parents

 May 1st is the Solemn Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker.  It’s a big feast day in Rome, similar to America’s Labor Day.  The whole city shuts down and they feast all day long!

St. Joseph comforting this crying child, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

May is also a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  Your church might have a May Crowning and maybe you’ll hear even more sermons about Mary, especially on the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend celebrated in America.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom Statue in the atrium of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD.

And while May is truly a month to celebrate the parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,  I propose we use it as a time to celebrate our own parents as well.

My mom and dad 50 years ago!

Even though there is no official “Parent’s Day,” this month’s Feast Days give us time to reflect on what it means to be a good Mom and Dad, to improve parenting skills in general, and to make sure that we let our own parents know how much we appreciate them with a delicious meal.  And I have two books to help with that!


For those new to our movement, my first book, Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life, has a chapter with bite-sized theological essays about Moms and Dads.  It also includes recipes you can make to say a special “thank you” to your own parents.  There are even questions to facilitate a conversation about the important role of parenting.  Not to mention my famous winning recipe from the Food Network Show, Throw Down! with Bobby Flay.


My second book, Spicing Up Married Life, compliments the important role of parents in the family. I believe the family’s love for each other begins with the strength of the parent’s love for each other.  With that, I encourage “month-aversaries,” a monthly dinner date instead of the traditional once a year celebration. Perhaps children can make a special meal for their parents based on the recipes of this book and encourage their parents to take some time to read the essays and ask each other the questions in the book.  I’ve had many couples write to me and tell me how this book has really helped strengthen their relationship as spouses and also as parents.  Please feel free and share your own comments about this book here.

Spicing Up Married Life Video
Spicing Up Married Life Video

May also happens to be a popular month couples to also get married.  These books are no doubt a great gift for the newlyweds!


May also brings very fresh ingredients to make the great recipes in this book even better!

Use this month well! The Feast Days of this month coupled with the resources from our movement, bring powerful reminders to honor moms and dads, like Mary and Joseph. They deserve the recognition from children and society.  Parents who work hard to provide the “daily bread” for their family deserve a special meal to celebrate their necessary role in building up God’s family!  Let’s start a movement to celebrate “Parent’s Day!”

My parents 50 years later!

Let us pray:  

In honor of the Feast of St. Joseph and in the month dedicated to Mary, we pray for our parents.  May God raise up and inspire moms and dads to seek only the best of things for their children, feeding them only the best food for body, mind and soul.   Bless and protect the sacrament of marriage Lord, and help loving moms and dads to be the effective sign of charity, commitment and holiness in the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



  • How do you celebrate a “Parent’s Day?”  Is it on the anniversary?
  • Do you think we need to try and petition a celebration called “Parent’s Day” on our calendars? 
  • What’s the hardest thing about being a parent in today’s world  How do you cope with that?
  • If you pray to be a good and loving parent, what qualities do you pray for? 


Your responses help encourage our work and our movement. Please let us know your questions, thoughts and comments below. 

My parents at the same beach 5 years after their marriage… they like the beach!


MAY 05
Gaithersburg, MD


MAY 11
Ennis, TX


MAY 21
Lincoln, NE
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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Feast Days | 6 Comments »