The workplace is the second most likely spot you’ll meet your significant other. Throw late nights and some white truffle oil into the mix, and it’s no surprise many chefs meet their soul mates in the kitchen. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked a few local married couples about their recipes for romance.
Jeremy and Lisa Sewall, now co-owners of Lineage, first met at L’Espalier in 1996. Three months later, they had their first date—though Lisa didn’t know it was a date at first. The pair drove to York, Maine, where he cut his finger while cooking dinner at his parents’ house. “He never cuts himself,” Lisa says. “That’s when I knew he liked me!” They celebrate on March 31 every year, though she admits she can’t remember what he cooked that day. Something she’ll never forget? The bottle of white truffle oil Jeremy gave her one Valentine’s Day—a luxury at a time when money was tight. He says, “It’s a gift I’ll never be able to top.”
Marjorie Druker and Paul Brophy, co-owners of the New England Soup Factory and the Modern Rotisserie, were in the same class at Johnson & Wales (where their daughter is a current student). But the couple didn’t meet until a sophomore-year internship at a Florida resort. Their second date involved a picnic prepared with a hot plate in the employees’ dorm. When they went to a hardware store to purchase utensils for their alfresco meal, the cashier asked, “Are you married?” Paul responded, “Not yet.”
Having just arrived from Russia, Viktoriya Bulavinova was working as a busser and bar back at dbar in 2006 when she met Chris Coombs, now chef-owner of dbar, Boston Chops and Deuxave (where Viktoriya works as service captain today). Each influenced the other’s palate. He introduced her to lobster—alas, she’s allergic, which necessitated a CVS trip during a date—and helped her navigate Chinatown’s spicy cuisine. “Every time I watch her eat the Szechuan fish stew at Gourmet Dumpling House, I think, ‘This was the girl who couldn’t handle black pepper on her salad!’” says Coombs, who in turn learned how to make traditional blinis from Vika’s grandmother.
Farmstead Table co-owners Chad and Sharon Burns met while working at Tapawingo, a Michigan restaurant. He showed her around the kitchen on her first day; soon they were exploring hidden beaches and fields full of fireflies, even hunting for morel mushrooms together. When Chad made her a morel and asparagus cassoulet, Sharon says, “I told him it was the best morel cassoulet I’d ever had. It was also the only one I’d ever had, but I haven’t had a better one since.”