Cooking priest makes NFP sizzle

| June 21, 2011 | 1 Comment

Father Leo Patalinghug holds up a batch of his Fusion Steak Fajitas, which helped him win a cooking challenge with Food Network TV host Bobby Flay. Father Patalinghug is coming to the Twin Cities in July to give a presentation on natural family planning, plus offer a cooking demonstration. Photo courtesy of Father Leo Patalinghug

Father Leo Patalinghug went head to head in the kitchen with Bobby Flay — and won.

In September 2009, he was invited to be on the Food Network’s hit show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” to talk about a movement the priest started called Grace Before Meals.

A priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the 41-year-old native of the Philippines has been trying to encourage families — both Catholic and non-Catholic — to spend time together around the dinner table.

He looked at the TV appearance as another chance to preach that message. Flay, however, had other ideas.

“He challenged me to a steak fajita throwdown,” Father Patalinghug said. “I accepted, thinking all the while that I was not going to win.”

He even formulated a concession speech in his head, while turning his thoughts to preparing his Fusion Steak Fajitas.

“I was going to just simply say I pray for patience and humility every day, and today was God’s answer to my prayer,” he said of the anticipated defeat. “But, it turned out that I won.”

So, in this case, it was Flay who ingested a dose of the heavenly virtues, while Father Patalinghug  parlayed the victory into more forums for his message.

What is NFP?

» Natural family planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies without the use of drugs, de­vices, surgical procedures or other artificial means.

» For more information about NFP, CLICK HERE or call the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life at (651) 291-4488.

Demonstrating the link

Folks in this archdiocese will have the chance to hear Father Patalinghug — and see him in action — July 26 at St. Peter in Mendota (see box). The archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life is bringing him here during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ NFP Awareness Week,  July 24 to 30.

It may not appear that food and natural family planning are linked, but Father Patalinghug plans to tie the two together in his presentation, which will include an interactive talk plus a cooking demonstration — all at the same time.

“What I’m going to do is engage the audience with questions, while at the same time cook and present the message,” he said. “Food and sexuality are two things that are obviously blessed by God. They both deal with the appetite of the body. . . . There are a lot of studies that actually talk about people’s consumption of food as it relates to their sexual appetite. In both cases, there needs to be virtue exercised.”

Those attending his talk will have a chance to learn more about NFP and watch him prepare a breakfast dish. While he doesn’t classify the demonstration as a how-to event, he believes he has a lot to offer when it comes to preparing food. His love of the culinary arts is a lifelong interest.

“It started at home [during childhood], continued in seminary and was fostered in my priesthood and encour­aged by my brother priests and the laity,” said Father Patalinghug, who is the director of pastoral theol­ogy at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

But, as he got older, he wanted to be more than just a good cook. Eventually, he joined the seminary and forged a path to the priesthood. Now he wants to help families find holiness in their kitchens through the movement Grace Before Meals.

“It’s an international movement to strengthen family relationships around the dinner table, following Jesus’ example of eating, not just with saints, but, most importantly, with sinners,” he said. “We try to remind people to invite God to their dinner table as he invites others to his.”

Want to go?

» What: Father Leo Patalinghug of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will present a talk entitled, “Satisfying the Human Appetite in a Natural Way: A Discussion Relating to the Human Hunger in Body, Mind and Spirit.”

» When: Tuesday, July 26, from 7-9 p.m.

» Where: St. Peter in Mendota.

» Cost: $25 per couple.

» For information and to obtain a registration form, call the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life at (651) 291-4488, or email

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