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