Cooking With Father Cooper of New Orleans — With a Recipe for ‘Transformation Tea’
‘These recipes are hands-on activities in the kitchen,’ says Louisiana’s Father Robert Cooper, ‘designed to bring Jesus back to the family.’
Father Leo Patalinghug’s cooking shows may have kicked off a national pleasure: watching priests cook. An internet search turns up several other priests who have had their culinary skills filmed for videos or television programs. As it turns out, one of these cooking priests is Father Robert Cooper, pastor of Divine Mercy Catholic Parish in Kenner, Louisiana, who started a video series entitled Cooking with Father Cooper.
Born and raised in New Orleans in a large Sicilian family, Father Cooper said that enjoying food was a part of his growing up.
“Every night I ate with parents and grandparents around the table,” he said. “Every Sunday all the family gathered: food, faith, family. Food was the vehicle that helped build family life and at dinner there was always a lot of talk about our faith.”
He attributes his basic cooking skills to his grandmother, who he said was both a great cook and a great baker.
“She really instilled the importance of food and faith in our family. She was also a great Sicilian baker, and that is where I got my first taste of it.”
He explained why cooking has become so important to his priestly life.
“The cooking shows have come out of a desire I had of preaching and evangelizing and a great desire to proclaim God’s word,” he said. “I wanted to bring it to all age groups, especially to the elementary children in our parish and to bring God’s word to a level that kids can understand. … That gave rise to the cooking shows as a way to extend the message of the Gospel and God’s word to many people.”
The Cooking with Father Cooper shows started in 2021 when COVID-19 hit and children were absent from the church campus. The first episode was on YouTube on Holy Week. In the beginning, Cooking with Father Cooper was intended then to be only one episode, meant to provide fun Catholic content for families looking for something to do during lockdowns.
His cohost in the first show — and in all episodes since then — has been young Lucy, daughter of Becky Delatte, who works for the parish as the Director of Communications. “Eventually, Father Cooper and I had the idea to go live on Facebook with how to make resurrection rolls (sweet rolls that illustrate the glory of the Resurrection, a perfect Easter treat!). The original plan was to have Father Cooper go live by himself. A few minutes before airing, my daughter Lucy came into the kitchen to help show him how to make the snack since Father Cooper had a few questions and she’s made them for years.” (All episodes are filmed in the Delatte family’s home kitchen.)
As he has since explained, Father Cooper decided the cooking videos could bring faith into the lives of the children, and all shows would include “hands-on activities for parents and grandparents and show how to make simple dishes that speak to children about the Gospels. Much of our Lord’s speaking was around meals.”
Since the first video, Cooking with Father Cooper has continued to grow. “We have now had 23 episodes go live,” he said, “and all the shows are available on YouTube. We have taken many different aspects of our faith/food message to bring our beliefs alive for the family, such as making an edible rosary and making mini-King Cakes for New Orleans Mardi Gras.”
“This ministry allows me and my staff to come up with creative ideas based on what is good for children and what can bring the Faith and family together,” he said. “These recipes are hands-on activities in the kitchen designed to bring Jesus back to the family.”
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Recipe: St. Monica and St. Augustine Transformation Tea
- 2 tbsp of Butterfly Pea Flower Tea (loose leaf preferred; available on Amazon and specialty grocers)
- 4 cups of Hot Water
- 6 cups of Cold Water
- 3 cups of Ice
- 3 tbsp of Lemon Juice
- French Press or Tea Strainer
- Clear Pitcher
- Using a French press or tea strainer, steep 2 tbsp of loose leaf butterfly pea flower tea in 4 cups of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes after removing/straining loose leaf tea.
- Pour 6 cups of cold water into a clear pitcher with 3 cups of ice.
- Once tea is warm (but no longer hot) pour it into the clear pitcher. (Faith Connection: you’ll see the water slowly darken from clear water to a dark blue color. When Augustine was younger, he lived a life of sin, not following God and making poor choices. Throughout this dark time of his life, his mother, St. Monica, prayed for his conversion and never stopped seeking was to convert him, including travelling after him to Milan with St. Ambrose which ultimately led to his conversion.)
- Slowly, pour 3 tbsp of lemon juice into the blue tea mixture. Stir until combined and watch what the transformation take place! (Faith Connection: through the intercession of his mother, Augustine later become a saint and Doctor of the Church! Many of us know of a friend and/or member of our family that has fallen away from the Church. May we follow St. Monica’s example and pray unceasingly for these individuals as well as have our actions reflect the urgency of living a life of Faith, rooted in the salvation found in Christ which has the power to transform even the darkest of hearts into something beautiful that can glorify him!)