RI chef to cook for Pope Francis

Chef Walter Potenza

Chef Walter Potenza said he went to college to become a history teacher.

But when you taste his cooking, you're glad that dream is part of his past.

"But you never think a call such as this will ever come," Potenza said.

After years in the kitchen, he was called to cook for Pope Francis.

"His message has been one of reaching out to the people to the less fortunate," Potenza said.

On Nov. 13, Potenza will join several other chefs to help raise money for the Hunger-Relief Mission of the Vatican.

Potenza's food usually delights customers at his Cranston and Providence restaurants.

But next month, it'll raise money to feed the "barrios" of South America.

He'll be the only chef representing the U.S.

Although Potenza will be miles away from home, he's going to bring New England to Italy by importing scallops from Massachusetts, lobsters from Maine and some delicacies from Rhode Island.

"The cream from Rhody Fresh here," Potenza said.

All the ingredients are donated, and will be shipped to Vatican City to make a uniquely American dish.

"Lobster and Scallop Newburg," Potenza said.

"You have bay leaves, you have sherry wine. You have a little bit of cream. It's a very rich dish, it's very nice. Obviously the Holy Father may not even have a chance to try it. He hates to spend money anyway," he said.

Potenza said he hopes while serving the pope and the poor of South America, he'll leave a taste of America behind.

"This is a good opportunity to share with them that we do have a great cuisine in the U.S.," he said.

A message he hopes to share not with words but the taste buds.