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
When you click on this website, you are welcomed by the beaming face of Emily Stimpson Chapman from Pittsburgh. Cook, author, mom, wife, entertainer, blogger and guest speaker at numerous events, Chapman has found her true calling — to be a dedicated follower of Christ through her Catholic faith.
A native of Rock Island, Illinois, Chapman also celebrates Catholicism through her unique cooking website, which offers recipes and cooking techniques, but evangelizes with commentaries about food and the spiritual life and with a section on the Catholic home. However, her pathway to her faith and her love of cooking was filled with potholes, twists and uphill climbs.
Although raised in a Catholic home, she was catechized in a difficult time for the Church and never fully understood the teachings of the faith. She noted during her interview on a Marcus Grodi EWTN show that she remembered the priest at her parish wearing tights and dancing down the aisle to the altar. “That was a very confusing time to be a Catholic,” she said.
During her time as an undergraduate student at Miami University of Ohio, she walked away from her Catholic faith and embraced Evangelical teachings instead. After college, Chapman moved to Washington, D.C., and lived with an Evangelical community. Fellowship there was important, and it did not matter if participants went to church or studied the doctrine. What mattered most, she was told, was to think about Jesus and be with Jesus.
During college and for several years afterwards, Chapman struggled with anorexia. Fortunately, during this era, she also began to realize she missed the Catholic Mass — and her path back to Catholicism started when Chapman met a young devout Catholic at work. He talked to her about the faith and urged her to read more about it. In time, the reading she did not only captured her imagination, but it also taught her to understand that the body and food were gifts from God.
That not only ended her anorexia, but it also inspired her to continue using the cooking skills she had acquired earlier, as a volunteer at two D.C. area retreat centers. “They had world leaders come visit,” she said, explaining the training she received, “and on weekends they had guest chefs come prepare meals. I started cooking with them to learn cooking tricks and how to feed a large crowd.”
In 2002, Chapman left D.C. and moved to Steubenville, Ohio, to attend graduate school in theology at Franciscan University. Throughout graduate school and long after, she continued cooking for friends and their families, welcoming crowds into her home for dinner every week. After she finished school, she remained in Steubenville, and began her career as a writer.
Then, in 2015, she launched her website, The Catholic Table. She filled it with life stories and recipes and even more recipes, all of which drew in a crowd of followers. Almost two years later, shortly after her wedding to her husband Christopher, she published a book by the same name, The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet, which explored the role the Holy Eucharist and the theology of the body had in helping her heal from anorexia.
Today, Chapman, the mother of one young son, and her husband continue to welcome friends into their home every week for dinner. As she noted about communal meals on her website, such meals help others to see food as a sign of God’s love and a foretaste of the Eucharist. She said, “To welcome others, to feed them with good food and attend to them with love is to give people a glimpse of the welcome and love we hope to receive at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”
Through her years of cooking, Chapman has come to love many recipes from stews and soups to dishes that are delicious, nourishing and easy to cook for a crowd. And when asked about her favorite dish, she said “risotto,” adding that her friends laugh about that because in her new cookbook, Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality and Everyday Dinners, she has written a thousand-word essay on risotto. But whatever she offers her guests, they must rejoice in her welcoming spirit.
Note: Chapman has written several books. Her most recent is Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body, co-authored with Scott Hahn.