Bristol pastor cooks up divine dinner for 20


The Rev. Henry P. Zinno, Jr., pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, is as passionate about the meals he prepares as he is in his service to the Lord.

Further testimony was demonstrated last Sunday evening when he and group of about 20 people (lucky winners of a silent auction drawing this  summer during the annual Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel), took part in a detailed cooking lesson inside the rectory kitchen area, followed by a sumptuous dinner in the dining room.

This was no ordinary after-church supper. The menu was well planned and concocted by Fr. Zinno himself.

“This was three days’ worth of cooking,” said Fr. Zinno, renowned for his culinary prowess and imaginative meal planning. “But, I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Fr. Zinno came up with the idea for this special silent auction over a decade ago.

“I started this silent auction when I first came to Our Lady of Mount Carmel as pastor in 2002,” he said. “I thought this would be a fun way to raise money for the parish since I enjoy cooking so much. At the time, the kitchen in the rectory was too small, but through the kindness of a parishioner, the kitchen was enlarged and entirely renovated so as to allow for this type of cooking school event. How it works is like this: At the feast each year people can give a sealed bid for this evening. The bids can range from $200 to $1,000. The 10 highest bids that are received by the Sunday night of the feast, wins. The winner can bring someone with them, so, 20 people get to enjoy this evening.”

The dinner generated about $4,000.

Each year, the items on the menu are worth savoring.

“The menu is different each year,” said Fr. Zinno. “The 20 people arrive around 6 p.m. on the given night. A bar is set up with appetizers that I make. This year, I made two different puff pastries, one with gruyere cheese, Dijon mustard, and black forest ham, and the other with homemade pesto, prosciutto, and mozzarella. Also, we had crostini with two different salsas, an Italian version and a Mexican. When the people come into the kitchen, chairs have been set up and I demonstrate how to make a number of the items on our first two courses. Then, we go and eat these courses, after which we come back into the kitchen, where I show how I made the final courses. Then, it’s back to the dining room to enjoy these courses. Some of our parish high school and college students wait on tables, and they enjoy it so much since we pay them and they get to eat.”

This year’s particpants included Jeff and Alisa Steadman, Millie and Frank Vaccaro, Jim and Pat Farley, John & Arline Vittoria, Matt Vittoria, Rob VIttoria, Bob and Kathy Ruginis, Gloria Sao Bento, Kristen Sao Bento, Steve and Beth Romano, Dan and Donna Eagan, Gloria Pasqual and Jan Iacovelli. Servers were Alex Cournoyer, Brandon Paulino and Phillip Dufour.

“Fr. Zinno's dinners are always an eating experience,” said longtime Bristol summer resident Gloria Sao Bento. “The food is spectacular. It's like eating in the finest restaurant in the state. His menu and what he chooses to serve is off the charts. Father puts his best effort in his cooking and his pallet for fine food is shone in his dinner. I can't wait to see what he serves next year.”

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Minister of Music, Stephen A. Romano, agrees that having Fr. Zinno around to do the cooking is an extra blessing.

“I applaud Fr. Zinno for his efforts,” said Mr. Romano. “He's a tireless worker when it comes to raising funds for the parish. He's an excellent cook....very much at home in the kitchen as he is on the altar. The food he prepared was amazing. He never disappoints. As he always says ‘the best Italian Restaurant in town is 141 State St.'"



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