February 5, 2019

Top Chef Tips for a Romantic Dinner at Home

Planning on making a meal for your sweetie this Valentine's Day? The Dirty Apron's chef David Robertson gave us his top tips for ensuring it's as romantic as can be (hint: stay away from that garlic!). —Noa Nichol

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Hello chef! Flowers, candlelight and ... ? What is your definition of a "romantic meal”?

Anything that requires a little bit of extra effort, and is above and beyond your go-to meal. Show your special someone you really put some thought and effort into it. But make sure to balance cooking something special with a recipe that won’t leave you stressed. Choose a meal where you can do most of the prep well in advance, so that the actual cooking process is fun and enjoyable—preferably with a glass of wine in your hand. My signature Miso Sake-roasted Sablefish recipe checks all those boxes. And, there’s nothing sexier than a perfectly cooked medium rare piece of meat, or a pan-seared piece of fish seared to crispy perfection.

Lobster bisque, filet mignon, crème brûlée—what are the best (traditional and/or non-traditional) items to include on a home-cooked Valentine's Day dinner menu?

My personal perfect home-cooked Valentine's meal would include Alaskan King Crab, a beautiful cut of beef or lamb and a cheese platter for dessert. Whatever you cook, do stay away from "garlicy" dishes, or heavy and starchy foods that leave you bloated. There’s no romance in that!

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What, in your mind, are some of the most romantic foods or recipes in the world?

A picnic. I love eating in the outdoors, or in front of a roaring fire in the winter. Whether it’s a crab boil at the beach, or fresh bread, charcuterie and cheese—everything tastes better when wrapped up in a blanket together with you favourite person in the world.

Do you have any tricky tips for pulling off a home-cooked romantic meal?

Choose dishes where you can shop and prep well ahead in time, so that when it comes to the actual cooking part, you’re not stressed out and you can actually enjoy the evening the way you had intended to. And don’t choose something too finicky, like a soufflé—that way, you can let the evening run its course. After all, the food should add to the romance, not steal the show. Also, I don’t believe in counting calories when planning a special meal. Go all out! Enjoy!

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Truth time: which Dirty Apron class do you consider the "most romantic" and why?

All of The Dirty Apron classes running the week of Valentine’s Day are romance themed. We offer a number of couples’ cooking classes, and each has its own draw. But what they all have in common, is that couples work together on their meal. It’s a great opportunity to be a team, and then celebrate your culinary success while enjoying the fruits of your labour. My favourite couples class is Roma. There’s just something about Italian food—from cooking to eating, it just has passion and that special "romance" factor.

What's your all-time favourite Valentine's Day meal, food or treat (is it ... cinnamon hearts?!)?

My favourite Valentine’s meal is whatever will make my wife, Sara, happy! As owners of a food business, Valentine's Day doesn’t always need to be a lavish or complicated meal for us. Sara is German, so sometimes a little bit of charcuterie goes a long way. And of course, a good bottle of champagne!

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