They say the way to the heart is through the stomach. Most professional chefs and bakers would agree. Despite the grueling hours-long shifts and often tough working conditions, the meal makes it all well worth it—especially if it's handily prepared by your other half. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, we asked six couples who are superstars in the food world to share the moment when they knew they had met their culinary match.
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Sue Torres and Darren Carbone of El Vez
Sue Torres was formerly the chef at Sueños in New York City; Darren Carbone is the executive chef at El Vez in New York City.
Sue: I asked Darren to cook his beef stew for my sister and I on a cold winter day. We went to the store together to buy the ingredients and, as we are going up and down the produce aisle, he put parsnips, rutabaga, celery root, and other ingredients in the cart. My sister is your basic carrot and potato kind of lady. Darren said that, even if she didn't eat the more off-the-beaten-path ingredients, she will when she tries his beef stew. Not only did she clean the whole bowl and have seconds, she claimed any leftovers for herself. In that moment, I knew that a guy who cooks with that much passion must be the right one for me.
Darren: At our first family gathering, Sue made eggplant parmesan. I was done; it was on another level. She used a batter instead of bread crumbs and sliced the eggplant very thin to maximize the batter. I am very lucky and grateful to have an incredible chef for a wife that fills my heart with love and my belly with soulful cooking.
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli of Don Angie
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli are co-chefs at Don Angie in New York City.
Angie: Scott and I fell in love shortly after we met. We barely knew each other and decided to go on a backpacking trip through Spain. A dish from that trip that sticks out in each of our minds is a simple sandwich we ate in a small, local café in Grenada: jamón ibérico and manchego on a roll. It was perfect in its simplicity—the quality of the ingredients was unlike anything I'd had before. It was a moment that truly brought us together over our passion for food.
Scott: It was the perfect sandwich—the sharpness of the cheese and earthiness of the ham were a perfect balance of flavors on the fresh, soft roll and it didn't need the help of any condiments. We haven't tried to recreate it, because it was so specific to where we were at the time, in the same area where the meat, cheese, and bread were produced.
Jeni Britton Bauer and Charly Bauer of Jeni's Splended Ice Creams
Jeni Britton Bauer is the owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams; Charly Bauer is the director of stewardship.
Jeni: I had brought some of my ice creams to a party in March 1999, and we met while I was conducting a tasting of them in the kitchen. I was late to the party, and Charly was wearing a bathrobe he had "borrowed" from the people who owned the house after a dip in the hot tub outside. It turns out that he had actually seen me earlier that day at the market. The rest is history.
Charly: I was shopping in Columbus's downtown market for something to make for a dinner party and I saw the most beautiful human being I had ever laid eyes on making ice cream behind the counter. I thought to myself that I was going to marry her someday. At the party later that night, she showed up and brought her amazing ice cream. Rumors about what I was wearing that night are just that.
Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis of Eggshop
Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis are co-owners of Eggshop in New York City.
Sarah: After a long night filled with too much champagne in the Hamptons, we grabbed egg sandwiches to cure our hangovers. When we got home, we ordered Domino's and cried together as we watched Magnolia. It was love.
Demetri: On weekends in the Hamptons, grilled lobster was always our go-to dinner. We loved the simplicity of it. Then every morning, we'd wake up craving egg sandwiches, which we'd devour. I guess our love lies in both!
Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb of Huckleberry
Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb are co-owners of Huckleberry in Santa Monica, Calif.
Josh: Zoe made me fresh-baked chocolate croissants and ham-and-cheese croissants the first morning we had breakfast together. I was in love already, but that definitely didn't hurt.
Zoe: When Josh made me tiramisu. It's one of my favorite desserts and I just love his version.
Daisy Ryan and Greg Ryan of Bell's
Daisy Ryan and Greg Ryan are co-owners of the soon-to-be-open Bell's Restaurant in Los Alamos, Calif.
Daisy: One time at a staff party, Greg and I were eating caviar with Lay's potato chips. I remember thinking that he was the person I would always want to eat caviar with, and that potato chips were the only way to eat it.
Greg: We got snowed in one day when we were living in New York, and Daisy ran from our apartment all the way to Blue Apron (now Hiller & Moon) in Park Slope, Brooklyn, roasted a chicken, and made a butter lettuce salad and handmade ravioli with preserved lemon and ricotta. I think about that meal all the time.