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Cathedral chef shares priests’ favorite recipes

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

By David Eck

CATHEDRAL DEANERY — You could say that Joanne Trimpe whips up her own of slice of heaven, particularly at dinnertime.

For almost three years, Trimpe, whose real name is Itala Giovanna Delli Carpini-Trimpe, has been the chef at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, preparing meals for the three priests who live there, their guests and for church functions. Moving around the large kitchen on the third-floor residence area of the cathedral, Trimpe creates appetizers and main dishes rooted in Italian or Latin American styles.

“We have lots of guests. We have lots of dinner functions,” said the Venezuelan native, who is fluent in Spanish, Italian and English. “I do everything from scratch. I love my job.”

Father James Bramlage, pastor of the cathedral, and Fathers Raymond Larger and Thomas Snodgrass reside there.

Joanne Trimpe (Courtesy photo)

Raised primarily in Venezuela by an Italian family, Trimpe and her parents emigrated to Cincinnati when she was 13. Each day after school, while her parents worked, she had to make dinner. Over the years she honed her skills, which were self-taught.

In addition to working at the cathedral several times a week, Trimpe volunteers to make her spaghetti sauce for fundraisers for Elder High School and does some catering.  Her husband, Michael Trimpe, is an Elder alumnus and coaches the school’s golf team. He is a forensic scientist for the Hamilton County Coroner.

Her most recent project is a self-published cookbook featuring more than 100 recipes. Holy Chow, titled by Father Snodgrass, features some of the priests’ favorite dishes. About 15 additional recipes from friends and family, including one for strawberry pie from Father Bramlage, are included in a special section of the cookbook.

The book will be available next month. Trimpe has spent about 18 months on the project.

“My cooking experience has been able to grow tremendously in my years as the chef at St. Peter in Chains,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “The priests and bishops love different creations and encourage variety. I have enjoyed using my God-given talents to please those who do God’s work.”

It was through her husband that she was steered to the job at the cathedral. He is enrolled in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at the Athenaeum of Ohio. One evening Deacon David Klingshirn and Father Mark Watkins were at the Trimpes’ home for dinner. They enjoyed Joanne’s food, told her that the job at the cathedral was coming open and encouraged her to apply.

“I think it was divine intervention that I got the job,” Joanne Trimpe said. “They treat me like I’m just one of them.”

In the book’s foreword, Father Bramlage said it’s obvious that the Trimpe likes cooking at the cathedral.

“Whether it is just the evening meal for two of us, or a dinner for 20 or more with the archbishop, Joanne takes great delight in preparing and serving the dinner, and it is always a delicious and beautifully prepared meal,” he wrote. “The humming of tunes that always emanate, along with the wonderful aroma from the kitchen, is just one indication that she enjoys her work.”

Her affection for the cathedral, of which she is also a member, runs deep. Half of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the cathedral.

“Her main staple is the Italian flavor, but it’s rarely ever the same,” said Father Kyle Schnippel, who lived at the cathedral for about three years before moving to another parish last summer. “She’s bringing in something different. She likes to experiment a little bit and go with what’s new. It’s always neat to see how she can bring things together.”

Trimpe makes the priests and guests feel at home at the cathedral.

“She really finds joy in the everyday parts of life,” Father Schnippel said. “What she sees in serving priests in a way is serving the mission of the church and helping the priests do what we do.”

She uses fresh ingredients and constantly shops for the best deals. She shops at Sam’s and meat stores on the west side of Cincinnati. The historic Findlay Market in Cincinnati is a place to find good fish.

“I know what every store has and their specialty items. I really don’t have anything pre-made or pre-packaged,” she said. “If you have staples, you can make anything you want.”

David Eck can be reached at [email protected].

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