Alienum phaedrum torquatos nec eu, vis detraxit periculis ex, nihil expetendis in mei. Mei an pericula euripidis, hinc partem.

’Tis the Season(ing)! Meet Chef Gina Dye

St. Francis Seraph Ministries Chef Gina Dye is such a fabulous cook, her meals have earned her a few bouquets of flowers and at least one impromptu marriage proposal.

“I fixed these potatoes and green beans one time, and a man asked me, ‘Are you married?’ I said, ‘No, are you?’ He said, ‘No, but we can be. You don’t know me, but I know your cooking!’”

Gina laughs at the memory — one of many she’s made in her 16 years at SFSM. As the organization’s longest-tenured team member, Gina has touched the lives of countless guests with the love and care she puts into her food.

Her father, George, taught Gina and her sisters to cook when they were young. A Marine charged with feeding 3,000 people a day in the service, George was “Gordon Ramsay to the 25th power.” He inspired in Gina a love of cooking with gravies, stocks, broths, and seasoning.

“I call myself the Season Queen,” Gina says.

Her deft hand with flavors is essential for working with large quantities of canned vegetables, especially green beans. After she adds her seasoning and gives the veggies a nice, long simmer, guests can’t get enough of them.

“Not to brag on myself, but I’m a whiz at taking donated canned goods and turning them into a masterpiece,” she says. “I’ve got everybody eating vegetables!”

Gina gets excited to see donations of canned items like corn, peas, and mixed vegetables. She’s especially thrilled when hamburger and chicken patties arrive. With those, she adds a side of mashed potatoes and seasons one of her trademark gravies with plenty of onions and garlic. “It’s great when I get through with it,” Gina says.

She’s cooked as many as 334 meals in a day. And although guests have different preferences, there’s one thing everyone loves: Fish Friday.

Every Friday, Gina prepares fish, macaroni, and coleslaw. She uses her father’s recipe for the coleslaw, which includes Lawry’s seasoned salt, a bit of sugar, and Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Depending on what’s on hand from week to week, the macaroni might be made with parmesan cheese, shredded Mexican cheese, garlic, chives, or even ricotta. Gina likes to boil her pasta in chicken stock to enrich the flavor. However she prepares it, it’s always a hit.

“On Fridays, the crowd gets heavy! You almost have to shut the door and lock it,” Gina says, laughing.

Of course, Gina and the rest of our culinary team work tirelessly to ensure everyone who turns to SFSM can enjoy hot, nutritious meals that nourish body and soul alike. The work can be challenging, especially when donations are running low, but the guests make all the effort worthwhile.

“I’ve had people come in here and just break down and cry. They thank me for taking the time to fix the food,” Gina says. “They know the blessing — they know where it came from. It didn’t just come from me. It comes from a higher power.”