Pastor Cooks Up New Ways to Reach People for Christ

Pork chops sizzle on the grill while the chef begins preparing a decadent mixed berry cobbler. The room fills with comforting scents reminiscent of grandma's kitchen. Patrons nibble on bits of filet mignon wrapped in bacon discussing everything from cooking experience to religion.This isn't a new restaurant, it's the Pastor's Pantry Cooking School. 

This unique dining experience also serves as a dinner church in Wheelersburg, Ohio, led by chef and local pastor Sam Peters and his wife and sous chef, Joyce. Peters serves Ironton First United Methodist Church in the Shawnee Valley District.

The demonstration cooking school teaches participants how to cook a wide variety of dishes ranging from Asian, Italian and Latin America to Barbecue, Cajun and Lowlands cuisine. But for Pastor Sam, it's an opportunity to share the Gospel of Good Taste. 

"We believe every good and perfect thing comes from God and that includes food," Pastor Sam said. He and Joyce support local farmers and businesses and adjust the menus for the food they have in the pantry. This is not just good stewardship; it provides their patrons with the freshest food.

Another "ingredient" in the Gospel of Good Taste is dining around the table, breaking bread together, in community with one another. Although each class is one evening, customers often return.

As a youth, Sam worked at a local restaurant. That is where his love for good food was born. Sam and Joyce started creating sauces that gained popularity with friends and family. Because of their encouragement, the cooking duo created Patter Fam sauces and launched their business in 2009.

The name Patter Fam came from a little boy in the church Sam was serving at the time. Any time he tried to say Pastor Sam, the words Patter Fam came out of his mouth. The nickname stuck and it seemed like a great name for the company. The Pastor's Pantry Cooking School began in 2015.

"What we are passionate about is relational evangelism and relational discipleship," Peters said. "What better way to do that than over food?"