Posted January 2nd, 2013 | Blast from the Past, Dinner Discussion, New Year

Blast from “the Recent Past”

This week’s Blast takes a look at some of the Faithful Foodie highlights of 2012.  It’s a review of the past, which was truly “a blast!”

Please know I’ve had so many wonderful experiences this year that when I look back at the calendar and pictures, I realize God has truly blessed this Grace Before Meals apostolate and movement.  While many consider this work a “ministry,” I want to tell people they don’t have to be priests or nuns to bring families back around the dinner table.  I consider this work an “apostolate,” because it strengthens family life, and improves culture – one meal at a time! To be part of it, all you have to do is be hungry for good food and loving relationships.

Below for your enjoyment is a Top 10 Countdown for Grace Before Meals in 2012. I wish you all a happy New Year, with the hopes of an even more fruitful 2013!


Cooking with our Friends at the 700 Club with Gordon Roberts

Yes, the Christian communities and the Catholic Church have something in common – a love for the Lord Jesus.  While there are certain doctrinal differences, we can at least celebrate a “common meal” (even if it’s not the  Sacrament of Holy Communion – the ultimate sign of spiritual communion with each other).  These opportunities to share recipe ideas with other Christian leaders is a great blessing to me!



Maryland’s Black Ankle Winery and Cooking for Good Causes with Good People 


It’s a powerful sign when our Grace Before Meals movement is invited to present at non-religious events, especially when you meet local legends like long time radio and TV personality Ron Riley and his wife.  The invitation to speak to different audiences shows us our message is truly “universal.”  After all, the word “catholic” means “universal.”


Grace Before Meals on the “Big Screen” 


Talk about effective advertising!  There I am driving to an event in Delaware when I see a big picture of me advertising a health fair.  It was even funny and humbling to see such a big picture of my “mug.”  Thank God I didn’t swerve my car when I saw it!


Another “Blast from the Past”



At an event in Florida a mom showed me a picture of me baptizing her son 15 years ago! She came because she had seen an ad for the event and recognized me. I am always running into people who have some mutual friend, experience, or family tie.  These experiences at events across the country and around the world are very humbling opportunities to see just how big, and yet how closely knit the Catholic Church family is.



Grace Before Meals is Deepening the Message of Family Meals by Focusing on Married Couples 


I always knew our message of family meals would eventually take a closer look at where families begin – the love of a mom and dad.  My presentation for Spicing Up Married Life at an event sponsored by the Pro-Life Group for the Archdiocese of Baltimore brought an unexpectedly large crowd of couples.  (To order, CLICK HERE!) This turnout showed me our work truly responds to the parish communities’ need for better marriage preparation – not to mention more opportunities for couples to go on a date night!  One husband confessed he attended my event very unwillingly, but after tasting the prepared recipe and hearing the message, he really “ate it up!”


Celebrating with Friends and True “Spiritual Brothers” in the City of “Brotherly Love”



Along with my good friend Fr. Erik Pohlmeier from the Diocese of Little Rock Arkansas, I planned a dinner with our former spiritual director from Rome, Bishop Daniel Thomas, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  At dinner we shared our many joys, as well as the normal struggles of trying to be a faithful priest in the modern world – a world sometimes hostile to the Christian message.  Honestly, while I know the food was great I can’t remember exactly what I prepared.  Nevertheless, the message and meaningful meal shared with brothers will never be lost in my heart, mind, or soul.


America’s Largest State and Tackling Enormous Food!



During a trip to Alaska I had many, many incredible food experiences.  One stop took me to the town of Talkeetna – a village really – that had great food finds.  Their burger was even featured in the popular show Man v. Food!  Tasty?  Yes.  Leftovers? Definitely!

Alaska Trip Part 2 What To Eat
Alaska Trip Part 2 What To Eat



Taking the Grace Before Meals Message Back “Home” to the Philippines 


While on a family vacation in the Philippines at the beginning of 2012, I was asked to do hurricane relief support/promotional work with the metro Manila Philippines BergHoff cooking store. (BergHoff is actually a German based company with locations around the world.) There I had the chance to meet and cook with two recent graduates from the culinary school. They prepared an appetizer, while I cooked the famous fusion steak fajitas for a group of reporters and representatives who came to support the disaster relief efforts for the recent hurricane.


Filming the Series Savoring our Faith in Rome, Italy



We filmed four Savoring our Faith episodes in foodie hotspots in and around Rome, including Scarpone’s Restaurant – not only famous for its food but for cooking for Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict!  We also cooked with internationally known guests and revealed some “secret” recipes, including the famous Scrigno Pasta from Ristorante Cecelia Metella outside of Rome.  You can catch Savoring our Faith every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. EST on EWTN.


Celebrating with My Family for My Parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary


The Epic Cooking Battle Between My Nieces and Nephews


Mom and Dad were totally in their element, dancing and even singing songs for the 300 plus guests who came to their 50th wedding anniversary extravaganza!  Baltimore Sheraton Hotel Chef, and former high school classmate, Sam Anderson prepared a great feast! But the greatest part of the evening was just watching my mom and dad enjoy the company of family and friends as they celebrated 50 years of committed love.  It was because of them I was inspired to write our newest book, Spicing Up Married Life.


And how can I forget when my nieces and nephews went spoon to spoon in our family’s second annual cooking battle.  The girls won last year’s battle, but the boys took home the prize this year. It was a nail-biter! A victory by one point in the creativity category!

Cooking Competition 2012
Cooking Competition 2012


I hope you enjoyed the review of 2012’s favorite faithful foodie experiences.

To help couples and families experience more inspired meals in 2013, be sure to pick up your copy of the books SUML and GBM!

Next week, we’ll be doing a rundown of my top 10 favorite restaurants and recipes!  So, stay tuned for another “Blast from the Recent Past,” full of tasty memories!

  •  What was your favorite food experience of 2012 and why?  

Your comments let us know that our message is reaching hearts and minds, and we hope they let you know you have a place at our table to share your thoughts, ideas, and questions. So, please post your comments below.

Let Us Pray:

Father in Heaven, you gave us 2012 with all of its joys, sorrows, challenges and Grace.  Help us to look forward with great faith, hope, and love in the year 2013.  Continue to bless our movement, the families who share in our message, and those who we will meet in the coming year.  Give us always a Grace to live each day to the fullest, through Christ our Lord. Amen.  

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Posted in Blast from the Past, Dinner Discussion, New Year | 1 Comment