Recette’s Jesse Schenker: Serving Up Gourmet Romance

To get ready for Valentine’s Day, we asked some husband-wife chef and restaurant management duos to share their romantic stories: how they met, what they like to cook to celebrate the holiday and whether their restaurants go all out in the name of love.

Written by Jesse Schenker, Chef and Owner of NYC’s Recette. His wife Lindsay Schenker is the restaurant’s Director of Operations. Together they run this urban, contemporary American restaurant where progressive techniques are married with traditional flavors.

Lindsay and I met at Coral Springs Middle School in South Florida when we were in 8th grade. We were in different classes but had a mutual family friend; I didn’t know it at the time, but she had a pretty big crush on me. When we were in 9th grade, I became very interested in her, but things didn’t quite work out. The same thing happened again in 10th grade – and I didn’t hear from her for 10 years. I always thought about her as the one that got away.

In May of 2008, Lindsay sent me a MySpace message after she read an article about Recette Private Dinning. I responded immediately and, well, the rest is history. A few months later , she moved from San Francisco to New York and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

We’re really busy at Recette for Valentine’s Day. We will be serving a 5-course tasting menu featuring oysters, caviar and champagne, ending with a decadent chocolate dessert, and accompanied by John Coltrane playing throughout the restaurant. One year, we had a man propose during the meal. The woman he was with started screaming out of excitement. Everyone in the restaurant was buzzing, especially when he got down on one knee! It was very cute.

As for my valentine, Lindsay, I will make her favorite dish for her after service: fresh cut spaghetti with sweet shrimp, stewed tomato, chili and sea urchin (recipe below), paired with a Burgundy to make her extra happy. She doesn’t cook, but I love her homemade cards every year.

For our real celebration, I’ll surprise her with a Smörgåsbord of her favorite foods: charcuterie and cornichons, grain mustard, mixed olives, fresh burrata cheese and olive oil, truffled peccorino, fresh baguette, pate and figs. She loves that stuff, and I always catch her off guard by getting it all together a few days early.

Fresh Cut Spaghetti with Sweet Shrimp, Stewed Tomato, Chili and Sea Urchin
Recipe courtesy Jesse Schenker

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
A pinch of crushed red chili flakes
1 pound fresh Florida rock shrimp
1 8 ounces can peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch fresh basil
1 pound fresh cut spaghetti
1 tray of fresh sea urchin

Directions
In a saucepot, heat olive oil on medium until shimmering. Add minced garlic and chili till lightly toasted and then add shrimp. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Take tomatoes out of the can, place in separate bowl and crush until mostly smooth. Add tomatoes to sauté pan. Simmer down 2 to 3 minutes. Add in cheese, lemon juice and fresh basil. Add in fresh cut spaghetti and toss with sauce. Salt to taste. Fold in sea urchin and incorporate throughout the dish.

Want more ideas for your Valentine’s Day celebration? Get recipes and inspiration from Cooking Channel.
Check back tomorrow for another romantic restaurant story and recipe.
Click here to read more Love in the Kitchen stories from chefs and restaurant management couples.

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