Wow, it’s not often you come across a cookbook where every recipe looks so delicious you want to run to the kitchen right away and start cooking!
Since I got it, I’ve been showing Gigantiello’s cookbook to everyone who comes over to my house. Everyone — from my Italian-American husband whose cooking is the stuff of legend to my best friend who went to culinary school — is as impressed as I am.
Breaking Bread with Monsignor Jamie isn’t just a cookbook. It’s an inspiring call to action: Monsignor Jamie encourages families everywhere to bring back the old tradition of the shared family meal.
Eating together should not be a bygone activity but the very foundation of our society, Gigantiello writes. The shared meal can reach into the heart and get to the things that really matter in life. His cookbook brings wonderful encouragement for friends and families to eat together and spend time in the kitchen and around the table.
I had the chance to catch up with Gigantiello about his new cookbook and the power of family meals. Here’s our conversation.
What inspired your love for cooking?
I was inspired by my mom and dad in the kitchen. When I was 11 years old, I loved to help them in the kitchen baking cakes … I’m Italian.
What led you from working in the culinary world to answering the call to priesthood?
I always had a call to the priesthood. I was an altar server and very close to the Church, but I never thought I would be able to be a priest because I was shy. Throughout my teenage years I was active and I felt I was being called to a vocation to priesthood, and people encouraged me. When I was 30 I felt the calling more passionately and pursued the priesthood.
What have been some of your favorite episodes of your cooking show?
Having Bishop DiMarzio on the show, who takes time from his schedule, who loves food and cooking and we spoke about his love of cooking and he still finds time to cook. Also feeding the homeless was very moving, especially the appreciation that was shown. Having Msgr. Cassato on that show was always a plus, too!
Why are family meals so important, especially in today’s world?
Family meals are important because people don’t sit down together as a family. In life, gathering around the table becomes a time to get to know each other and teach and share love and learn family values at the meal.
Today, many parents have no clue what is happening in the lives of their families and that’s what the table brings together. We need to reclaim the family table.
What are your favorite recipes from your new cookbook?
My favorite recipe is gnocchi because it reminds me of being a kid. My aunt would make the orecchiette, and it brought back memories. The omelet was simple but I appreciate opening the fridge and using ingredients that are readily available because I don’t like wasting food and ingredients.
What’s the most important thing you’d want to share about your new cookbook?
The recipes are treasures that are passed down from generation to generation, it reunites us to our loved ones, it brings life’s most important ingredients, faith, food, family friends, it unites us in a very simple way.
How can people begin to take a step toward cooking and hosting a shared meal, even if they don’t live near family?
People think cooking is complicated and it’s not. Not my recipes. They are simple and are not time-consuming, and they can be prepared ahead of time and when your family is far apart you can create a family with friends and break bread.