“I’m a Lutheran” is a monthly profile featuring ELCA members around the country. The profiles showcase ELCA members in all their diversity, connecting one another through individual faith stories as Lutherans. Sentence prompts are provided to each person featured. If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email megan.brandsrud@elca.org.

Congregation: Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Ill.

Occupation: Chef and vice president of strategy and industry relations for Kendall College, Chicago

I believe that we’re on this earth to serve people and show them God’s love.

I think sharing a meal with people can lead to some of the strongest human connections and foster not only friendships, but incredibly deep and life-changing discussions.

I pray that there can be peace in our world and that the inequalities that exist will be minimized. I also pray prayers of thankfulness and for guidance. Truthfully, I struggle with a consistent prayer life, but when I do pray, it feeds my soul.

Through my role at the Culinary School at Kendall College, I try to change lives through education. Education is key to improving life, fostering understanding and creating problem-solvers.

My favorite church memory is of the Easter Vigil service. It has become a family favorite. There is a moment when we go into the dark church about halfway through the service and the lights come on to joyful music and an alter overflowing with flowers. It’s a sensory overload and a lot of emotions come bubbling up to the surface.

My favorite Bible story is Jesus revealing himself to Mary Magdalene. It’s pure beauty, pure love, pure tenderness and such a powerful example of hope through Jesus. Every time I hear it, I fight back the tears.   

I connect food with my faith life by seeing it as so much more than sustenance. Food is core to so many things in society and provides the space for human connection. I also see the food importance in communion, where simple bread and wine take on such significance. And through cooking, I share a God-given talent with others as a way of bringing them joy.

My favorite ice sculpture I’ve carved is a huge train engine that was about 100 blocks large (each block is about 330 pounds). It had smoke, lights and even a soundtrack.  

I struggle with a lot of things. I would love to say that I’m a perfect Christian. I struggle, at times, with my relationship with God. I also struggle with time. I overcommit too much and often the people I care about most get the short end of the stick.

My time as an executive chef at a Chicago restaurant was exhilarating. There’s nothing like creating great food amid the general chaos of a restaurant where you’re constantly focusing on excellence.

I’m a Lutheran because I grew up that way. There are certainly other forms of Christianity that speak to others and provide spiritual guidance and connection. For me though, Lutheran traditions speak to me and nourish my soul.

People are surprised that I have a number of eclectic interests, like antique textiles, ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement), organ music and old pens.  

I share my faith by caring about others. I used to be a Stephen Minister, which was amazing, and I truly learned the power of caring and listening for those moments when you can step in as a caring Christian.

A piece of advice I’d share with aspiring chefs is be ready to work really hard, learn from the best and try to keep life in balance.

Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is an associate editor of Living Lutheran.

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