Kickstarting a Food Revolution
Phoenix Legate Chris Faddis’ new venture is feeding bodies and souls
When Chris Faddis’ wife Angela was diagnosed with terminal cancer five years ago, one of the biggest struggles was getting her to eat. After staying at several hospitals that served terrible food of low nutritional value, Faddis finally found a cancer center that focused on cooking highly nutritious and good-tasting food — especially for cancer patients.
“People don’t know this but 40% of cancer deaths come about because of malnutrition,” said Faddis, a member of Legatus’ Phoenix Chapter.
“If a patient loses too much weight, they can die from chemotherapy because their body can’t metabolize the medicine. The doctors initially told us that Angela would only live two to four months, but through the good nutrition she got at this center, she lived 17 months.”
From tragedy to grace
From tragedy to grace It was through this heartbreak that Faddis came up with the idea to start a company that creates greattasting, nutritious meals designed especially for cancer patients, those with other chronic diseases, and “the walking well.”
He launched Bene Plates in November after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised nearly $18,000.
“We’ve been working with nutritionists and doctors on designing the meals,” Faddis explained. “We’re focusing on providing food for people with cancer, diabetes, dementia, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. However, we are geared to be able to offer food to anyone who is interested in nutritious and good-tasting food.”
Although several American companies already ship ready-made meals — usually for dieting purposes — Bene Plates is poised to become the first company to ship meals for the chronically ill. The Bene Plates kitchen, with a lead chef and several other employees, can ship meals anywhere in the continental U.S.
This is how it works: A Bene Plates client will work with a nutritionist who does a blood analysis to see what micronutrients are needed for the patient’s condition. They also look at antioxidant levels.
“Because I have a restaurant background, many of the recipes are Angela’s and mine,” Faddis said. “We will be putting up a generalized menu on the website that can be catered to a person’s condition. There are no pollutants in the food and we are working to create an allergy-friendly kitchen.”
Entrees include breakfast frittata with chorizo, grass-fed meatloaf and citrus-marinated chicken. “We use fresh herbs and antiinflammatory spices such as turmeric and cumin,” said Faddis.
Food that heals
Cheri McCloskey had breast cancer in 2011, which had been in remission until last year when doctors found pre-cancer cells in her breasts and lungs.
“They decided put me on a chemo-medicine which is not as strong as chemotherapy,” said McCloskey, who lives in Peoria, Ariz. “It involved one series of infusions. It made me sick and I wasn’t feeling well.”
She had heard about Bene Plates through a Catholic friend on Facebook. The idea sounded good, so McCloskey donated money to the company’s Kickstarter campaign. She never thought she would be a beneficiary of its services.
“They sent me food on the sixth day after treatment,” she said. “It tasted good, smelled good and I felt good after eating it. I honestly didn’t think it would be as good as it was. When you do chemotherapy, everything smells awful, but this was great. It smelled appetizing. Also, the meals made me feel satisfied. I wasn’t hungry afterwards for many hours.”
Another interesting thing is that McCloskey’s own family noticed how much better she was feeling after eating Bene Plates’ meals.
“Sometimes, when we have a client who has severe nausea from chemotherapy, we send chicken broths and smoothies that are ready to go,” Faddis explained. “It is really important to get some protein and nourishment inside the person. We also plan to use some essential oils in the packaging because this can really help our clients.”
Father Leo Patalinghug, who hosts a cooking show on EWTN and founded the Grace Before Meals ministry, is a Bene Plates culinary and spiritual advisor.
“Good cooking is rooted in the Christian understanding of hospitality, which has the same root as the word ‘hospital,’” Fr. Patalinghug said. “This is a spiritual opportunity, so I am trying to get the chefs of Bene Plates to understand how they are affecting souls. Saint Teresa of Avila said, ‘If you want to find God, you have to find him amidst the pots and the pans.’”
Father Patalinghug notes that Bene Plates wants to bring balance to families affected by disease through nutritious food.
“The more natural the food, the more flavorful the meal, the better the quality of life,” he explained. “Herbs contain natural potencies that strengthen the immune system. This is a winwin situation. We show the power of food to heal — and we can give people a taste of heaven through a great concept called communion — our community, which is giving consolation. This is the beauty of the moment.”
Father Patalinghug will also be speaking and cooking at benefit dinners to aid Bene Plates.
Faddis’ personal tragedy has a happy ending. He married Jennifer in 2014, and they’re busy building their new company and raising a family.
Bene Plates, he said, has been an opportunity to turn a personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others who are going through incredibly difficult times. Before Angela passed away in 2012, he had already discussed the idea with her. She said it was the best idea he had ever had.
“For me, Bene Plates is a response based on my understanding of end-of-life issues,” Faddis explained. “If we have an issue where we debate whether or not to feed people at the end of their life, Bene Plates is a great solution. We can prove that a person does better with great food. We can show people how to treat those who are ill with dignity.”
SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.
CITRUS GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD
- 6 chicken tenders
- 2 oranges, 2 lemons
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp. honey (or agave)
- 4 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme
- ½ bag baby arugula
- 1 belgium endive
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ red bell pepper
- 1 cup snap peas
Salt and pepper chicken tenders. Juice 1 orange and 1 lemon and place in bowl. Add half of olive oil to bowl. Add half of chopped thyme. Mix and cover chicken with this mixture and let stand for 20-30 min. Heat grill pan on medium. Place chicken on grill pan and grill for 5 minutes per side.
In a bowl, place the honey, remaining olive oil, juice from remaining orange and lemon, and remaining thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk together.
Wash and rinse all vegetables. Place arugula in a bowl. Chop the endive cross-wise and place over arugula. Chop the snap peas into thirds and place over top of salad. Slice the red bell pepper and place in salad and then add cherry tomatoes. Toss salad with citrus dressing and then place on a plate. Add chicken (three per plate) and enjoy.
For more details, visit beneplates.com