Fr. Leo defeats Chef Flay

It is nice to see a priest who can cook do well.

Here is a CNS story:

Father Leo beats Flay in cooking challenge

By George P. Matysek Jr.

Father Leo Patalinghug was up to the challenge.

The well-known cooking priest beat Bobby Flay, a world-renowned celebrity chef, in a steak fajita cook-off that was televised nationally Sept. 9 on the Food Network’s “Throwdown! With Bobby Flay.”

Father Patalinghug, director of pastoral field education at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, is the host of “Grace Before Meals,” [great title!] a cooking show broadcast on the Internet and a Boston-based Catholic television station.

Flay traveled to the Mount St. Mary’s campus in June and challenged Father Patalinghug to the “throwdown.” It was the first time the “Iron Chef,” a former altar server, has faced off against a priest. 

The competitors prepared “fusion fajitas” for a select group of families, members of the Mount St. Mary’s community and other guests outside the home of Mount St. Mary’s University President Dr. Thomas H. Powell.

Baltimore chef Bennie Gordon and Nancy Luse, features editor and food columnist for the Frederick News-Post, served as the judges for the competition. While they liked both dishes, the judges gave the edge to Father Patalinghug. Luse criticized Flay’s fajita vegetables for lacking crispness.

As the television show premiered, Father Patalinghug hosted about 300 fans in Baltimore’s Little Italy who watched the show live. The priest signed aprons and copies of his cookbook, “Grace Before Meals: Recipes for Family Life.”

“Having Bobby Flay challenge me to a throwdown was a complete surprise and shock,” said Father Patalinghug, who used brown sugar as one of the secret ingredients in his recipe. “I’m a huge fan of his and the Food Network, so it was an honor just to be on the show and cook alongside of an Iron Chef.”

The Food Network will re-air the episode on Sep 20 at 11 p.m. and Sep 21 at 2 a.m.


Kudos to Fr. Patalinghug!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. John Enright says:

    This might be the basis of a new show: Father Cooks Best! LOL!

  2. JennyZ says:

    Oh excellent! I love that show… totally missed out today though. I’ll have to catch the re-air.

    Kudos to Father indeed :D

  3. Sedgwick says:

    One might even say that Father Leo FLAYED him….

  4. We taped it and just watched it. One of our local priests went to seminary with Fr. Patalinghug and told us about the show. It was great!

  5. Denise says:

    The show was absolutely wonderful. I was inspired to serve my family fajitas this evening. I’ve found a copy of Fr. Leo’s cookbook paired with a couple of the Grace Before Meals aprons makes a fun wedding/shower gift. I interviewed Fr. Leo back in May and it has been one of my most popular columns.

  6. MichaelD says:

    The show briefly profiled Fr. Leo’s ministry, including footage of what appeared to be a very reverently celebrated Mass! I was very glad to see this.

  7. Ha! Nice! Great job Father Leo Patalinghug!


  8. JoanW says:

    I had been looking forward to the show for the last few weeks. It was refreshing to see the Catholic faith presented in such a great light– priests as fun & normal people, praying as normal, etc.

    I emailed Food Network ( and thanked them — maybe we could see more of Father Leo (or at least his family-centered message!) in the future.

  9. Konichiwa says:

    Awesome! I wonder if it was Teresa Tomeo who used her connections to get him on the Food Network show. I heard about him on one of her recent shows, and she mentioned getting him on the Food Network.

  10. Konichiwa says:

    Fr. Z, I would like to see a “throwdown” between Fr Leo and you. Some of the things you cook look pretty gourmet!

  11. David SJ says:

    You’ve really got to love the fact that the article mentions that one of the *secret* ingredients in Fr. Patalinghug’s recipe is sugar!

  12. Hans says:

    Fr. Leo’s Grace Before Meals has a home online at, the site of a non-profit Catholic new media organization founded by Fr. Roderick Vonhögen of the Archdiocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands. And I know for a fact that Fr. R listens to Fr. Z’s podcasts, because he’s mentioned them on his (The Daily Breakfast).

  13. irish3509 says:

    My mom came into the room and said “there’s a priest on 29.” I said ok, and clicked from Glee on Fox to Bobby Flay’s Throwdown on Food Network. I only got to see the end, but I was glad to see a priest, well a few “collars” as I called them being portrayed in such a nice way, and I’m glad he won too. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch the show on repeat so I can see the rest of it. I want to know why Fr. Leo looked so familiar to me.

  14. jbalza007 says:

    Very cool! Speaking of which, I’m looking forward for Father Z’s kitchen Z-cam. Perhaps even a video blog of your cooking? :)

  15. Pinoy priest! Woohoo!!!

    Now when do we see Fr. Leo and Fr. Z face off?

    The Reverend Iron Chef cook off in the “HolyStyle Network”?

  16. BMKoenig says:

    I work at Mt. St. Mary’s and I can vouch for the fajitas! Fr. Leo is a great priest. Not only is he popular with the seminarians, but he also has a great rapport with the faithful college students.

  17. robtbrown says:

    Luse criticized Flay’s fajita vegetables for lacking crispness.

    I think the vegetables should be carmelized.

  18. is his website for anyone that’s interested

  19. irishgirl says:

    I think that Fr. Z and Fr. Leo should have their own cooking contest, too!

    Very cool that Fr. Leo won!

  20. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I was especially happy to hear that the Good Father views food as an important part of family life. We so often neglect family time in this day and age.

    Of course, as an Italian, food, family and faith go hand in hand in hand. Sunday dinners are especially important.

  21. biberin says:

    I love Fr Leo’s stuff. The book is great, and some of his articles are just lovely. I seoncd (third?) the idea of Fr Z and Fr Leo facing off, or at least collaborating!

  22. priest up north says:

    Having partaken in many meals with and courtesy of Fr. Leo, indeed his winning is no fluke, but well deserved…

    Congratulations Fr. Leo!

  23. trad catholic mom says:

    I watched it the other day when it was on, great episode. I love seeing Flay get beat!

  24. John Enright says:

    irishgirl said “I think that Fr. Z and Fr. Leo should have their own cooking contest, too!” I think that would be great!

  25. jfk03 says:

    Fr. Z,

    The desert fathers warned us to watch out for the Demon of the Delights of the Belly!

    The WDTPRS Sour Grapes Award

  26. Father Leo gives sound Catholic teaching in his weekly email. I don’t have the slightest interest in cooking but for years I’ve been telling people ‘The family that eats together stays together’. The family meal has disappeared to a large degree in some Western countries. Father Leo’s apostolate is unique and I know that god is blessing it.

    Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Long live the Philippiens!

  27. Sorry, ‘God is blessing it’.

  28. If I may add another comment: there has been a huge breakdown in family life in the Western world along with obesity and binge-drinking – all of which are connected with sex, eating and drinking being disconnected from their proper meaning, including their social dimension. Father Leo is helping to counteract that.

  29. It’s not wrong to learn and teach how to cook food well, any more than it’s wrong to learn how to work wood well. Our Lord did both.

    And it’s not wrong to enjoy well-prepared food, any more than it’s wrong to enjoy using a well-made table or house. As long as you put God first, everything else falls into its proper place in the world.

    Some people do get obsessive about food these days, but usually it’s because they live alone and don’t have anyone or anything else in their lives. There’s a well-known connection between heart and stomach, and it’s always been prudent to use that to strengthen families and build communities. Look at Abraham. Did God admonish him for feeding everybody who showed up, or did He reward Him?

  30. I mean, “…or did He reward him?”

    Clearly, there’s a curse on capitalization in this thread. :)

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