A convert to Catholicism, Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, restaurant critic, and cookbook author, who is passionate about every aspect of the food world—from interviewing chefs to supporting local farmers and to making the connection between food and faith
Head of her own catering company (Silver Fig) in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dorrie Argentine credits her Italian-American family for her profound Catholic faith and her passion for cooking. Raised in a Catholic community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she remembers how devoutly Catholic her parents were, but just as memorable are the joyous family meals and her food-centric home life. “Everyone was interested in cooking,” she said, “and I learned about cooking from an early age from my mother, aunts and grandmother,” adding that they all congregated in the kitchen.
In fact, she said, as the only daughter, she was in the kitchen all the time with her mother, learning alongside her. “I loved doing it and cooking with her,” she said. “It was a great extension of love and joy even when I was rushing and hustling around the kitchen. It gave and still gives me a sense of doing for others out of love. My childhood was a golden time, and I loved it when all the relatives got together and shared what we did in the kitchen.”
As an adult and before beginning her catering company, Argentine taught at Oakcrest School, a Catholic girls’ school in Virginia, where her job was teaching a culinary art class. “It was one of my favorite jobs, getting girls to think about food and cooking,” she said. She assigned her students to bring into class a handwritten recipe for a dish they loved. Argentine looked at her own handwritten family recipes that connected her to her relatives, telling her students how important that special connection was.
Argentine’s next culinary step was to launch her own personal chef’s business. “I used to do very large events,” she said, “even before I started that business. It is very taxing and exhausting, so I don’t do big events anymore. Instead, I make meals for families and pack them in their refrigerator and freezer. The meals are ready to eat and that is a way to help families.” Argentine noted that dishes based on wholesome ingredients are much healthier for families than eating out. She even cooks for birthday parties and small dinner parties, and she has asked her grandchildren to pitch in and help her cook and serve.
Predictably, Argentine admitted that her favorite recipes are a blend of Italian-Mediterranean, noting that her grandchildren love to eat ravioli. “They help me make ravioli,” she said, “because it is a big project when we are making some for 20 or more people. And for a feast day, I prepare roasted chicken with rice and serve chocolate cake for dessert. That’s my favorite for St. Joseph’s Feast Day. I also make special breads and shape them into a staff sprinkled with sesame seeds that resemble tears.”
Argentine’s passion for cooking truly reflects her Catholic grace, noting that cooking and eating together is a time for encouraging friendship and sharing life with others. “I love cooking for others,” she said. “I even do little cooking classes in people’s home.” After all, it is biblical, she added. “Do not neglect hospitality, as some have unknowingly entertained angels. I always make room for another at the table; I am making space for angels.”
Note: Argentine explained the origin of her catering company’s name, Silver Fig. Argentine means “silver” in Italian. A fig tree is very Biblical, and a way to honor family and faith.