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How 5 top chefs like to wine and dine their sweeties

We know the most romantic dinner of all can be the one you share at home. Here's how five chefs would woo their loved ones

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Matt Brearley, Castlegarth, White Lake, Ont.: “Making a meal together is always the most romantic. My wife and I met at Stratford Cooking School. There were five other couples that got together in our year, so I guess it’s true. When I think back on the most romantic meals, it’s always cooking something from scratch together. Especially the pastas. You know, like with a ravioli, you’re rolling out the dough, making the stuffing, the sauce. It all takes a while and you’re talking and having some wine and it can be a very intimate experience. We tend to spend a lot of time cooking together and working off of each other’s ideas. To create a dish that comes from both of you is a pretty romantic experience.”

Gold Medal Plates

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Cory Vitiello, Harbord Room, Toronto: “I know it’s bad for business, but I’ve got to say that cooking at home – either cooking for someone or being cooked for – is the way to go in terms of romance. Simple is always best, because the last thing you want is to be stuck fiddling in the kitchen. It can be intimidating to cook for a chef, so it’s a good idea to get creative. I have an insatiable sweet tooth, so my girlfriend recently served me a three-course menu of all homemade desserts: lemon tarts, cookies, apple pie. It was amazing. The only flop was the ice-cream cake, which she said she had made on her own, but had actually bought at the store. Turns out it wasn’t an ice-cream cake at all, but a stale white cake that got chucked in the freezer. I couldn’t even cut into it.”


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Jen Agg, The Black Hoof, Toronto: “Can I just say Valentine’s Day is really stupid. The idea that there is this one day where couples are supposed to be really good to each other is just outside the entire point of a relationship. My husband is a very thoughtful person with a small culinary repertoire. One of the things he does really well is rice and beans. The other night I was feeling horrible; I just wanted to lie in bed and be a brat. We didn’t have any food in the house (this is what happens when you run a restaurant), but he managed to find these black mushrooms in the freezer, and he made the most beautiful black rice and mushroom dish with some habanero peppers, onion, garlic and some bacon. Anyone can go to a restaurant one night a year, but to me that was really romantic.”

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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Lizzie Stewart, The Blue Door, Fredericton: “For me the most romantic meal is being at home, sitting on the couch with your loved one and feasting on a good lamb rack. There’s something almost carnal about gnawing meat off the bone, and you have the fat all over your face and dripping down your fingers. Obviously that’s not an appropriate way to eat in a restaurant. Cooking at home is something I really look forward to even though I cook at the restaurant all week. A French rack of lamb is, to me, the ultimate treat and something to be saved for a special occasion. Of course I would want to cook it myself, because I don’t like anyone else’s cooking as much as I like my own.”


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Fred Morin, Joe Beef, Montreal: “I love the dinners we prepare during those first weekends at the cottage every summer. It’s May, so it’s just starting to get warm and my wife and I will get the kids in bed and then enjoy a really simple and delicious meal together. Often it’s something that we’ve picked up at one of those little roadside markets – fresh vegetables and a nice piece of meat or fish and then some good red wine, maybe some cheese. It’s so quiet and beautiful – surrounded by nature and the kids are sound asleep nearby.”

Christine Muschi/The Globe and Mail

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