July 8, 2015

Delegates Like to Eat, Too

Adventist Review/ANN

With long days and long hours, delegates to this General Conference session aren’t finding much time to do much of anything outside of official duties. However, the human body needs to be nourished.

During the workweek, delegates have their nutrition needs met during the lunch hour by the food service provided at the convention center, which offers tasty vegetarian meals with vegan options in an all-you-can-eat format. However, for breakfast and dinner, they, are on their own (with the exception of suppers Friday and Sabbath evenings). There are many options in close proximity to the convention center and hotels; and with two weeks in this place, we know delegates are sampling many different eateries.

As their cuisine preferences are as varied as the delegates themselves, we were curious to learn more about a few representatives from our worldwide church as well as what they have been eating, and hopefully enjoying, while here in San Antonio.

Sanjay Thomas, North American Division

Sanjay is an insurance agent from Maryland representing the North American Division. When asked what he enjoys doing in his spare time, his answer is definitely out of the ordinary.

I’m trying to run for public office,” he says. “That’s kind of my hobby right now because I haven’t officially declared, but I’m just working the fundraising circuits and meeting people in the communities.” Sanjay will run for office in the Maryland House of Delegates out of the fortieth legislative district of West Baltimore. “That election is in 2018, and I’ll probably declare at the beginning of 2017,” he adds.
The café in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt offers tasty, fast options if you are in a hurry. Josef Kissinger AR/ANN

In his local church—Takoma Park in Takoma Park, Maryland—Sanjay serves as an elder, Sabbath school teacher, and youth mentor.

Now, in terms of culinary skills and food preferences, Sanjay confesses that he’s not so blessed in the kitchen. “The extent of my cooking is probably a bowl of cereal,” he laughs.

Having arrived in San Antonio just a few days prior to this writing, he says his days have already been so packed that he hasn’t been eating too much. His days have consisted of a good breakfast in his hotel, then a light lunch (of what so far has been a few tofu wraps from the café in the Grand Hyatt) en route to meetings. Sanjay, however, has enjoyed an exceptional pizza in San Antonio. “I went to what is supposed to be one of the best pizza places in he city,” he says, “Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, and it’s a bit of a drive out of the city, but it’s legit—as in certified by the Italian government. I went with the margherita pizza with imported mozzarella. I figured since I came all this way, I should go with the imported.”

James Standish, South Pacific Division

James Standish represents the South Pacific Division and serves as communication director, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director, and editor of
Adventist Record. “My division requires me to go to ‘hardship’ destinations such as Fiji, Tahiti, Surfer’s Paradise and the south island of New Zealand,” he jokes.

The Standish family is involved in a new church plant.

“It’s designed to reach the students at our local Adventist school where my wife teaches and my girls attend. It is a fabulous school—scored in the top 30 in Australia on national exams. The families—most of whom are not Adventists—love it!

“So this church plant is designed to reach this community by breaking down barriers and making church more accessible to those who would normally never attend,” adds Standish.

When not working, James enjoys cars, restaurants, and guitars. “I’m a bit of a foodie,” he says. “Every Thursday evening I take one of my daughters out for dinner, and we are up for everything from tandoori to Thai, modern bistro to classic Italian, but my favorite is French.”

Standish is also skilled in the kitchen. Having grown up in Asia, he tends to favor Asian cuisine in his own cooking. “My usual is rice and vegetables of one style or another. I keep my shelves well stocked with various curries, hot sauces, and satay sauces,” he says.

His other specialty is chips or “fries,” saying the secret is a robust olive oil, thick cut potatoes with the skin on, and patience.

Here in San Antonio, James discovered a nice Mexican place near the River Center mall. Having tried the food on a trip to Mexico in 1991, he is now a “bit of an enthusiast.”

What made these particular food good? “It had just the right combination of ingredients, and my brother, Dr. Tim Standish picked up the tab. How do you do better than that?”

Angeli Andrea Cocos, Southern Asia-Pacific Division

Angeli, or Ann, from the Philippines, is one of this session’s young adult delegates. The first-year surgery resident with really no vacation days to take (as is the case with first-year medical residents around the world) is so thankful to be here. “I did not have leave,” she says. “Thank God, the invitation letter from the General Conference convinced my training officer to send me here.”

Ann is a member of the Pasay Adventist Church in the heart of metro Manila. She is also involved in medical mission trips as often as her schedule allows her. “Before I pursued surgery I had a lot of time. I was active in the church, played piano, and was a member of the choir. Now, however, I sometimes stay in the

hospital more than 48 hours straight,” she adds.

At the time of this writing, Ann hadn’t been out to eat with the exception of the Denny’s restaurant close to the Grand Hyatt. “It was good,” says Ann. Prior to that, she feasted on home-cooked food made by relatives for a few days. But now, River Walk restaurant Salt Grass is on the agenda for the evening, and hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.

Lael Caesar, Adventist Review/Adventist World associate editor

While Lael Caesar, originally from Guyana, is spending good chunks of his days in the
Adventist Review and Adventist World office, he is keeping up with delegate duties, closely monitoring the meetings via a live feed to our facility. So yes, Lael is doing double duty here in San Antonio.

Outside of the job that keeps him very, very busy, Lael says he loves spending as much time as possible with his wife, Lena. “She’s the part of me that matters,” he says. The two enjoy walking in the country or at the mall—especially at Christmastime. They enjoy a good restaurant and traveling the world together as well.

Lael’s local church life is important to him, though he confesses his day job doesn’t always allow him to serve as he would like to. “I would love to serve more meaningfully and integratedly in my local church, but I haven’t been an excellent example of that since I came to this office,” he laughs. “I travel a lot.”

Lael does have a bit of experience in the kitchen, however. He actually worked as a professional baker at one time and could bake his own 100 percent whole-wheat bread. But he confesses, “My years in marriage have diminished my expertise in the cuisine. I don’t do anything now. Lena’s just so good.

“Here in San Antonio, one of my earliest restaurant choices was influenced by the four and a half years I spent living in Mexico, opting for a good meal at Maria Mia near the convention center.”

In Lael’s mind, however, the “meal-of-the-week award” went to the family reunion cuisine he enjoyed on Sabbath. “We had roti and curry and channa (chick peas)—good Guyanese and Trinidad food. All my folks cooked. All I did was go and eat!”