Holy Smoke Festival Builds Bridges With Food, Faith
Published: October 30, 2003
ATLANTA—Msgr. Henry Gracz is cooking parmesan spinach balls for the 13th annual Holy Smoke culinary festival, which has the theme “Thirteen Years of Bridging Communities Through Faith” and features dishes cooked and served by over 100 of Atlanta’s leading clergy.
The event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Fulton Country Atrium on the corner of Pryor Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The festival is sponsored by Families First, a nonprofit organization which has served the Atlanta community for over 113 years.
Msgr. Gracz, pastor of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, is serving as an honorary chairman for this year’s event. As a first-time chef, who also is a board member for the ecumenical Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, he said he decided to play it safe by whipping up a popular vegetarian dish.
“I’m kind of like the new ‘old’ kid on the block,” he said. “It’s a great munching dish. It happens to be vegetarian, (and) I understand vegetarian dishes are very popular.”
The pastor compared the event to Taste of Atlanta, where famous chefs manning food stations serve sumptuous samples, only “in this case, we’re non-famous chefs.” He promises good food for both stomach and soul.
“We’ll take anybody we can. It’s really a fun gourmet night … It’s a night of real fellowship,” he said. “It’s everything from Irish stew to Indian curries to pasta with pumpkin squash to meatballs to vegetarian dishes to ice cream.”
Clergy from various faiths, wearing chefs hats and aprons, will present dishes such as “Pretty Decent Pizza,” “Hallelujah Chocolate Delight,” “Revelatory Ratatouie,” “Anna’s Key Lime Pie,” “Sinfully Sensational Mousse” and “Pesto Chicken Cappelletti.”
Msgr. Gracz said Father Paul Berny, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Marietta, is expected to participate, along with other clergy and Religious.
Proceeds will benefit the Capitol Area Mosaic, a center located near the state Capitol that works to stop child abuse and neglect and violence against children and families in crisis. The center offers educational, social and cultural programs. Holy Smoke is its only fund-raiser, and planners hope to raise enough this year to support many of the center’s continued activities: providing a safe haven to children through after-school and summer camp programs, parent education for new mothers and families and many other programs.
“Holy Smoke is a unique and exciting event for all who attend,” said Pat Showell, president of Families First. “It is a chance for people to taste a wide variety of dishes made by clergy from across the city and provides an opportunity to raise money for a great cause. The Capitol Area Mosaic’s outreach touches the lives of many families and children each day and this fund-raiser will help to continue serving those who need it most. It is truly a way to bridge communities through faith.”
Msgr. Gracz is happy to represent the Catholic community at the event. “Atlanta with its strong Christian roots is a multi-faith metropolitan community, and the problems of the city that benefit through Holy Smoke are problems that all people in the metro area face.”
Other honorary chairs include Rev. Mary G. Amos, a pastoral counselor, Rev. Yvette Massey of Cascade United Methodist Church, Imam Furqan A. Muhammad of Masjid Al-Muminum and Rabbi Steven Rau of The Temple.
Tickets are $30 a person, $25 each for groups of 10 or more and $35 at the door. For ticket information, call Families First at (404) 853-2810.