Jeff Young is the founder and producer of The Catholic Foodie blog and podcast, which has 15,000-plus followers. Jeff was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and now lives in New Orleans. He is a friend of many of the city’s famous chefs, and co-hosts the Around the Table Food Show on CCR 690AM (New Orleans) and 1380AM in Baton Rouge.
Jeff is also a conference speaker and has spoken on topics ranging from “growing faith around the table” to “using social media in the New Evangelization.” Jeff’s first book is now available for pre-order from Liguori Publications. The book is titled Around the Table with The Catholic Foodie: Middle Eastern Cuisine, and it is scheduled to be released on November 1, 2014.
HOW DID THE CATHOLIC FOODIE COME ABOUT?
I used to be a teacher. I taught Religion, Spanish, and Latin. And I have always been a geek. I like computers and gadgets, and I tend to be what social anthropologists call an early adopter. When it comes to technology, I like to be on the cutting edge. So it is no surprise that I picked up an iPod shortly after it made its debut, and I quickly jumped onboard with the new phenomenon of podcasting that followed in the wake of the iPod’s release. I introduced this new technology into my classroom, recording lessons, coupling the audio with slides, and publishing them on iTunes as a video podcasts for my Spanish students. I did the same thing in an audio format for the high school students I taught in my parish’s Parish School of Religion and Confirmation Preparation programs. The kids loved it, saying it really helped them to study and to learn, and I was having a ball.
In October of 2008 I started thinking of launching another podcast, this time one that wasn’t related to work. I wanted to do something fun, but also something I was passionate about. I kept going back to the topics of food and faith. Not only were those two things very important parts of my life, but I noticed they resonated with other people too. By the end of the month, I had registered the domain name and I had my tagline in mind: Where Food Meets Faith. Over the next couple of weeks, I built the website and launched the first episode of The Catholic Foodie podcast, just in time for Thanksgiving. I had no real plans of where I wanted this thing to go. I was having fun, and people started listening. I was surprised to see the show quickly gained a following, and in the summer of 2009, I was invited to become an affiliate of the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN), a worldwide Catholic new media network of podcasters. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Catholic Foodie has come a long way since then. In addition to the website and the podcast, I am now a co-host on a locally-produced radio show called Around the Table, which is broadcasted in Baton Rouge and New Orleans on Friday afternoons. I am a frequent guest on radio shows around the country, talking about food and faith, and the number of readers and listeners of The Catholic Foodie continues to increase. The recipes on the website are a great resource, but my main goal is to inspire and encourage families to get back into the kitchen and around the table.
The recipes on the website are a great resource, but my main goal is to inspire and encourage families to get back into the kitchen and around the table.
God created us to seek communion – with himself and with others – and one of the primary ways we experience communion is around the table… the table of the Eucharist at Mass, and also the family dinner table at home. From Genesis to Revelation, food plays an important role in God’s relationship with his people and in our relationship with each other. As a matter of fact, if you look at the book of Revelation, you’ll see that we are all heading for a huge feast… the wedding feast of the Lamb!
So The Catholic Foodie is about food, but it’s not just about the food. It’s the meals. It’s the families around the table. It’s communion.
I see The Catholic Foodie as a door-opener, a greeter. If Revelation shows us that we are all headed toward the wedding feast of the Lamb, and the Mass – the Eucharist – is a foretaste of that eternal feast, then I see my job as the greeter. I open the door. I smile. I welcome newcomers and invite them to make themselves at home.
I do all of this by talking about “food meets faith.” There’s a rationale behind this phrase. Notice that it is not “faith meets food.” The order is intentional. We are humans and we have to eat to survive. But we also like to eat. Eating is pleasurable. And when we are not eating, we like to talk about food. Food is a wonderful place to start a conversation. And food dovetails so well with faith, it can be relatively easy to move from food to faith, from the common to the extraordinary. At least, that’s what I try to do.
WORDS FROM LISTENERS, READERS, AND FRIENDS:
“Like food? Want to learn more about your faith? Jeff is personable, easy to listen to, and very knowledgeable about both subjects.” – Mike Lindner, from What Does Mike Think?
“I’m not a cook, though I like to eat. I do love learning about my Catholic faith, though. I didn’t expect to become a big fan of the Catholic Foodie as I have; Jeff makes me want to try my hand at some of the cooking and recipes. It’s not JUST about food, though, and his perspective on faith is valuable catechesis, and I appreciate every show.” – Sarah Reinhard, Snoring Scholar
“Though he doesn’t live in New Orleans proper, Jeff Young’s love of food, cooking and God is influenced by this Catholic city in which delicious meals abound! If you are interested in how the Church’s past and present history intersects with food, this is the podcast for you. Young’s talents as an educator shine through; he explains concepts in a lively way that never sounds preachy.” – Soyviz.