Now that’s Italian! | Photo of the day 2.3

Anthon y Farrell cuts up sausage for the meat sauce early Saturday afternoon in the kitchen at St. Cecilia Parish for the annual St. Cecilia Italian Dinner.

Brendan Curran, the organizer of the annual event, said the Italian dinner is now its 18th year.

It got started, he said, after he joined the church and someone asked him what he thought about parish politics.

“I said we needed a party,” he recalled.

Along with Steve Fling, they set up the annual dinner.

It’s not a fundraiser, Curran said, but a parish bonding event.

It takes a small army of volunteers from the St. Cecilia Parish Men’s Group — there are 50 guys on Curran’s mailing list for the dinner, he said — and it kicks off with an email in November followed by a single planning meeting on Feb. 1.

Then, early on the first Saturday each February, it’s time to get cooking.

More than 200 church members attend the three seatings for the Italian dinner, a word-of-mouth affair that’s always held on the first Saturday in February. Attendees usually include the oldest members of the parish to little babies, Curran said, “and everybody in between.”

“It’s a very special event,” he said, noting the high quality of the food and wine served. “This isn’t the old spaghetti-and-meatballs.”

Farrell is the head chef for the pasta dinner, and he was joined in the Saint Cecilia kitchen on Saturday by John Burns and Ben Koehler, with George Cruz helping wherever needed.

Just outside the kitchen, next to the parking lot, Philip Hernandez was cooking penne rigate pasta in a jumbo stainless steel pot (actually a crawfish boiling cooker) set atop a propane-heated jet burner.

“This is one of my favorite adventures, because it’s the men of the parish,” Hernandez said of the dinner. “It’s fun. I love the fellowship.”

(Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

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