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 Jenn Louis, the chef behind two popular Portland establishments, Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern. She co-owns the restaurants — which feature rustic, yet refined menus of Pacific Northwest ingredients — with her husband, the restaurants’ bar manager and beverage mastermind, David Welch.
David and I met while working at a restaurant – go figure. I had worked at Portland-based Wildwood for almost two years after graduating from the Western Culinary Institute of Portland and was finishing a Sunday brunch shift. I was very tired, having worked the Saturday night dinner service the night before. In walks a handsome man, sporting black high-water pants, a white t-shirt, a red v-neck cardigan sweater, chunky black shoes and tiny spectacles. I looked up and thought, “who the heck is this Mr. Rogers?” Really, it was love at first sight. We were married in 2003, and in 2008, David and I transformed a renovated warehouse into our first restaurant: Lincoln. In 2011 we opened Sunshine Tavern, where we offer family-friendly comfort food and playful cocktails.
We have always worked in the service industry, so our Valentine’s Day is spent at work. It is a long and a busy day, so I usually prepare something for the prep staff to eat (sticky buns, creamy macaroni and cheese) and then either he or I will sneak off to a little shop where they sell our favorite candy: dark chocolate bars filled with salted caramel. We usually enjoy that at the end of the day – a reward for a hard day’s work. This year, Sunshine is offering its normal menu, and Lincoln Restaurant will have a prix fixe menu featuring options for appetizer and entree (from a foie gras and chicken liver pate to to a cassoulet of lamb sausage, rabbit confit and roasted pork belly), panna cotta with Campari gelato for dessert and optional wine pairings for each course.
David’s and my ideal Valentine’s Day dinner (which is usually delayed until the next weekend!) is a Berlioni cocktail with a kale and grapefruit salad, a rabbit and pork polpetone with polenta taragana (recipes after the jump) with a bottle of 2011 Vietti Barbara d’Asit, and for dessert, one of those chocolate and salted-caramel bars with homemade nocino.