Most cooks do not look forward to Valentine's Day. Deuce city in the dining room makes for a particularly grueling service. But not me — after a decade of life on the line, I have somehow steered my culinary career down a unique path of food media, restaurant consulting and operations. So now I have most weekends and holidays off. It's still an unfamiliar feeling, so in my (very limited) free time, I teach cooking classes with my wife, Nina.
We met while working in the same restaurant seven years ago, and we have never had a Valentine's Day where we haven't been at work together. Last night, we kept the tradition alive with hands on demos for Oysters on the Half Shell, Steak Tartare, Cioppino, and Creme Brűlée for five couples in Nina's culinary classroom.
Nina is the Learning Center Coordinator at her family business, Healthy Living Market
. An FCI graduate (first in her class — I'm very proud of her), she's worked in many upscale restaurants, including our local Inn at Shelburne Farms and NYC's Telepan. Now she has created a learning environment where amateur cooks can learn the fundamentals of professional cooking — cleanliness and organization are persistent components of every lesson.
It's a fun departure from the craziness of a commercial kitchen — especially on Valentine's Day — mostly because Nina's students have the same passion for great food that most professionals have. Combining that passion with eagerness to learn makes for amazing food — and for Nina & I, it makes for an amazing alternative Valentine's Day.