One Memphis priest is cooking up food for the body and the soul on a cooking show, by Jennifer Chandler, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Father Ben Bradshaw loves to cook. His homilies often include stories of his past life as a chef, as well as his love for Nutella. His kitchen analogies help his congregants understand his messages in terms of everyday life.
Bradshaw, head priest of St. Michael Catholic Church, is using his talents as a priest and a cook to entertain and inspire more than just his congregants during this global pandemic.
This month he relaunched his online cooking show, “Soul Food Priest.”
“Food and faith are the epicenter of every culture and what we all come together for,” he said. “Food is a medium for connecting with people.”
His show marries cooking instruction with hopeful messages about faith and religion. Food for the body and the soul is the common ingredient in each episode.
The base recipe
Bradshaw started his “Soul Food Priest” cooking series in 2014.
“The only thing I know is food and theology,” he said. “I am using those two things to connect with people.”
A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and L’Ecole Lenotre in Paris, Bradshaw spent his early 20s working in commercial kitchens. At 27, he entered the seminary, and the church and cooking have been constants his entire life.
When it comes to the cooking show, Bradshaw joked that he is “making it up as we go.” He comes up with an idea and just runs with it.
The 22 shows on soulfoodpriest.com cover a diverse array of topics. One segment is about making king cakes, another on pasta, while another focuses on omelets. Episodes are about 20 minutes.
Each show includes cooking tips as well as interesting religious facts related to the recipe. For example, in an episode on ramen, Bradshaw discusses the Japanese martyrs as he demonstrates proper knife skills.
Bradshaw had put the cooking show on hold for the past two years as he finished writing his recently released book, “The Beauty of Man,” a study of Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
The pandemic inspired him to relaunch the show.
Dubbed “Quarantine Cuisine,” the new segments focus on recipes that are easy for the family to make at home. The first two shows cover making ramen and cake decorating.
Usually, Bradshaw tries to include others in the segments, but social distancing rules have him in the kitchen alone.
Filmed in the small kitchen of the church rectory, the shows are entertaining, informative and soothing all at the same time. The style of speaking that has made Bradshaw a beloved priest also makes him an engaging cooking show host.
“People need people — even introverts,” he said. “People are interconnected more than we think.”
Bradshaw hopes that his shows provide connection as we all stay safer at home.
“I love food, but I love people more,” he said.
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.