May 3, 2017

First Conference for Adventist Foodies Held in California

Gilbert Cahatol, Jr. and Marcos Paseggi

Bite Size Talks, a platform to explore the intersections between faith and food, held its first faith-based food conference at West Covina Hills Seventh-Day Adventist Church in West Covina, California, United States, on April 23. The one-day event, which included Adventist health practitioners, health-based food business people, and chefs as presenters, highlighted the intersections between food, faith, and fun.

The conference was spearheaded by J. R. Cahatol, a registered nurse, and Elaine Asumen, YouTube Vlogger of Simply Bakings, a food blog with vegan recipes and cooking tips. Their desire was to create a platform where faith and food come together to inspire others, one healthy bite at a time.

The Bite Size Talks organizing team featured young people from various churches who share the same burden of service to reach souls in a new way. Darlene Akpulonu, one of the volunteers who helped with the conference and a member of the Riverside Indonesian Seventh-day Adventist Church in nearby Riverside, said she felt inspired by the stories of various food presenters. “I was especially blessed by the presenters’ passion for using food as a medium for spreading the gospel,” she said. “I praise God for placing this amazing idea on Cahatol and Asumen’s heart.”

Jared Thurmon, Director of Strategy and Innovation of Adventist Review Ministries and one of the presenters at the event, concurs. “I loved that so many came and I was excited to see how food is such an amazing way to minister to people,” he said. “I think this event will inspire more and more Adventists to start cooking schools, restaurants, YouTube channels, and more.”

According to the organizing team, one of the Bible texts that served as the motivating force behind the event was Acts 2:41, 42, which reads, “Then those who gladly received [Christ’s] word were baptized, and that day about 3,000 souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (NKJV).

The Bite Size Talks team strives to “enable a network of people passionate about food to share their story of faith while serving and connecting with their community,” according to the group’s mission posted on its website. “It is a movement aimed to inspire and equip the next generation with one healthy bite at a time!”

“It is a movement aimed to inspire and equip the next generation with one healthy bite at a time!”

The team believes that this movement is a revival of the work of health and fellowship given to the church for the healing of the nations, and for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus in truth, love, and service, through the food space. In this sense, the group’s activities follow the core principles of Total Member Involvement, an initiative by the global Seventh-day Adventist Church to get every member involved in the mission of the church.

Chefs, Vloggers, and Business Persons

The April 23 event featured presentations from chefs, YouTube vloggers, and health-based food owners. Throughout the day, presenters shared stories of faith, their experiences in the food business, and their passion for healthy living.

The growing opportunities in the health-based foods field zeroes in on a movement aimed at connecting with the community. It seeks to motivate and equip the next generation of people who have a passion for food, health, and business. During the event, the attendees were fed healthfully, spiritually, and practically with delicious food of all kinds, including noodles, special tomato herb soup, and cookies.

Asumen shared ways in which others can start their video ministry to share the Word of God through the online food space. Chef G. W. Chew (yes, that is his real name!), shared many stories that indicated to him the work of God in leading his ministry of food, including door-to-door evangelism and the creation of healthy meat alternatives.

Chew also shared his testimony of God's providence working with him through the personal trials he faced trying to find success in the restaurant industry. His restaurant VegHub in Oakland, California, United States—which was recently featured in the East Bay Express—and his product Better than Meats, are fruits he believes God has given him to reach those hungering for something better.

For Bite Size Talks, this conference was the appetizer, a foretaste of future faith-based food events to come. Organizers are thrilled to see what “the Bread of Life, Jesus, has lined up on the menu in reaching souls through the medium of fun, food, and faith.”