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Restaurant Couples on Classic Pairings and the Key to Success

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By Sophie Brochu
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In honor of Valentine’s Day, we spoke to the ultimate power couples behind some of your favorite restaurants. Learn where they met, the key to teamwork, and most importantly, what they’re cooking up for Valentine’s Day Weekend.

Raquel Quadreny & Lawrence Letrero of Bayan Ko in Chicago

They met at one of Sable’s anniversary parties. Many sips of fernet later and they’re running a Filipino-Cuban mash-up in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Raquel: His favorite dish to cook for me is scallops or seared fish with brown butter and roasted veggies. Simple, but I love seafood. My favorite dish to cook for him is whole roast chicken and crispy skin. Crispy potatoes with so much gravy. 

Best pairing? Mussels and frites.

The key to teamwork and success? Communication and staying true to ourselves and our concept.

For Valentine’s Day, order the 5-course dinner kit featuring a prime ribeye cap with sofrito asparagus, truffle vanilla potato puree, and mojo demi-glace. Don’t forget the drink pairing.

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Kyle & Katina Connaughton of SingleThread in Healdsburg

They were only fifteen when they met at a punk rock show in Los Angeles.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Kyle: We are always making each other donburi (Japanese rice bowls). We cook rice in the donabe (Japanese clay pot) and usually top with grilled salmon, dashimaki tamago, avocado, sesame, and la-yu!

Best pairing? Rice and nori.

The key to teamwork and success? We rely on what the other does. I can’t do what I do in the kitchen without the produce Katina grows. For Katina, she can’t farm all of the amazing produce she grows without us as the outlet in the kitchen. It’s a true 50/50 partnership.

For Valentine’s Day, book the 9-course Hokkaido-inspired menu. It includes donabe and elevated ingredients from the Northern Island of Japan and Sonoma.

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Amber Manuguid & Aaron Verzosa of Seattle’s Archipelago

They met in a Tagalog class at the University of Washington.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Amber: We love it when we make each other’s parents’ dishes—the ones that we didn’t grow up with. Even though we’re both Filipino, our parents are from different provinces and all have their own unique experiences, so we didn’t grow up eating the exact same things. Now as adults, it’s amazing to eat food that is so familiar but is completely new to us.

Best Pairing? Green mango and bagoong.

The key to teamwork and success? Perseverance, laughter, and coffee.

Tell us about your Valentine’s menu. Despite 2020, we were really fortunate to connect with more farmers than ever before. Many of them focused on ingredients that you just don’t find grown locally, but are super important to the flavors of Philippine cuisine. Some of the dishes in our Valentine’s Balikbayan Boxes will feature these local ingredients, like turmeric and preserved green ginger that utilizes the root, the stalks, and the leaves. More than any one ingredient, our Valentine’s boxes will also be highlighting stories of some of the incredible Filipino American couples who are important to the history of our PNW region. We hope their stories will act as great talking points for couples that will experience our Valentine’s Balikbayan Boxes.

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Bruno & Christie Chemel of Palo Alto’s Baumé

Christie met Bruno in 2001 at the SFO International Airport.

Favorite dish to cook for one another? Adobo Chicken and Boeuf Carottes.

Best pairing? Golden Osetra Caviar with Château d’Yquem.

The key to working together? The key to teamwork is understanding each other with the same passion, focus, and loving what you do.

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Martial & Laurence Noguier of Chicago’s Bistronomic

Martial and Laurence met at the Iconic Pump Room in Chicago where Martial was the executive chef in 1998.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Laurence: I love to cook sea bass with sauce vierge for Martial, and he loves to cook everything I love…but most recently, lobster with passion fruit sauce and truffles.

Best pairing? Anything with champagne!

The key to teamwork and success? Listening to each other, thinking at the same pace, having twenty ideas a day, and trying to make one work. But most importantly…love love love.

For Valentine’s Day, order the crab cakes that made Laurence fall for Martial in 1998, a duo of beef, chocolate souffle, and lots of champagne.

 

Célia Laurent-Ziebold & Eric Ziebold of Washington, DC’s Kinship & Métier Restaurants

Célia and Eric met working in a Thomas Keller restaurant.

Favorite dish to cook for one another: Roast Chicken.

Best Pairing: Sea Urchin + Oyster + Champagne.

The key to teamwork and success: Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and having a shared vision.

For Valentine’s Day Weekend, book the tasting menu at Métier. The best experience ends in the salon with mignardise and after-dinner drinks. The team is also about to launch The Kinship Collection, where you can delightful gifts, like homemade candles and artisan ceramics.

 

Cody & Andrea Westerfield of De La Soil in Seattle, WA

They met in culinary school 14 years ago. Now they have a pop-up, two daughters, two dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Who cooks at home?

Cody: We have a very simple rule in our house. She cooks breakfast (because she is amazing at it) and I take care of dinner. I love her chilaquiles. Regrettably, I only get them for my birthday but I look forward to them very much. She seems to look forward to my protein-based salads in the evening with something fresh pulled from the garden prepared with a nice hearty pork chop thrown on the Big Green Egg.

Favorite pairing: An ice-cold margarita on the rocks with fresh-caught seafood on the beach in Mexico.

The secret: Respect for one another’s vision. And no matter how small the pop-up dinner or offsite event we are currently working on, we always appoint a chef and a sous chef between the two of us. We rotate quite often but as long as we know who has the vision for the day and final say, it makes avoiding confrontation in high-stress situations much more likely.

For Valentine’s Day, De La Soil is taking the night off, but order from Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor (where Cody is also the executive chef). They’re serving a chermoula-braised lamb shank with butternut polenta, amaretti, pomegranate, and fresh mint.

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Amy & Casey La Rue of Carte Blanche in Dallas, TX

Casey was the chef, Amy was the pastry chef. The rest is history.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Casey: Fresh pasta with homemade bread. I make the pasta and she makes the bread. 

Best pairing? Madeira and chocolate!

The key to teamwork and success? Communication and work ethic.

What are you most excited about on the Valentine’s menu? The caviar and wild mushroom dish.

Reservations are full for Valentine’s Day, but you can Join the Waitlist, or visit the pop-up in February.

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Jason & Erin “Cricket” Borajkiewicz of The Restorative in Dunedin, FL

Jason and Erin met working at TOPPER’S at the Wauwinet, a waterfront restaurant in Nantucket Bay.

Do you cook for one another?

Erin: Jason loves when I make my mom’s chicken casserole for him. And I love it whenever he grills a big steak.

Best pairing?  Frozen pizza and Coors light is our go-to for a night off.

The key to success? Not taking things personally, which is something we can always get better at.

What’s going on for Valentine’s Day? We’re still working on our menu, but there will be some sort of cake for two. Right now we’re thinking of a white cake with chocolate ganache and Florida strawberries.

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David Fisher & Serena Chow of San Francisco’s Marlena

Serena and David met as cooks working in New York City in 2013.

Favorite dish to cook for one another?

Serena: My favorite dish that Dave makes is any fresh pasta.  Dave’s favorite dish that I make for him is a vanilla bean cheesecake.

Best pairingFoie gras and truffles.

The key to working together? Patience and communication…and to always stay calm.

For Valentine’s Day, this duo is most excited about the dry-aged squab and their annual mini Linzer cookies.

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Find more Valentine's Day experiences near you.

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