Chefs’ Picks: Valentine’s Day Meals

by in Restaurants, February 13th, 2016

By Dara Pollak

Over the years, few holidays have gotten more heat than Valentine’s Day, and not necessarily in a good way. When was the last time you heard someone proclaim Valentine’s Day as their favorite “holiday”? Probably 1987, if that. What happened to just having a great meal with someone? And, dare we say it, a romantic one? We asked chefs around the country what their favorite Valentine’s Day meal is, and why it seals the deal every time.

Molly Hanson, executive pastry chef, Grill 23 & Bar and Post 390 (Boston)
“My wife and I met when we worked together at Harvest, so Harvard Square will always be a special place. We would get hot chocolate at L.A. Burdick for a treat now and then. Now I have one right around the corner from Grill 23 & Bar. It’s a quick trip to the Boston location to pick up treats for home, and it’s generally easier to find a table to eat in the tea room. My wife and I have made it our Valentine’s Day ritual for years.”

Greg Daniels, executive chef-partner, Haven Gastropub (Old Town Orange, Calif.)
“When I think of romance, I always think of sharing food. My wife and I almost never order a dish of our own anywhere, and I can’t imagine a better way for two people to get intimate than digging into some of Chef Amar Santana’s Seafood Paella at Vaca in Costa Mesa, Calif. [Smelling] the aroma of saffron while sucking the juices out of head-on shrimp, combined thoughtfully with drinking copious amounts of ‘vaca tonics,’ leads to the best result. Grab an Uber home, or just walk over and get a room at The Westin!”

Angie Mar, chef-owner, The Beatrice Inn (New York City)
“It’s very rare that I get to leave my restaurant and actually go out! So when I do, I have a few go-tos in the city, where the food is markedly different than mine. I love to go to comfortable places that I can cozy up to the bar and have an honest, simple and delicious meal. My favorite neighborhood spot is Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street. It has the best lobster rolls and seafood in the city. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day with oysters and a glass of bubbles!”

John Johnson, executive chef, Four Seasons Hotel (New York City)
“I prefer to stay home and create an intimate meal and enjoy a great bottle of wine. It’s important to be thoughtful of your better half and cook for them. I truly love to cook shellfish, like a beautiful lobster dish, or scallops — they present elegantly and are really in season this time of year locally.”

Rainer Schwarz, executive chef-partner, Driftwood Kitchen (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
“My favorite romantic meal took place last year at Spago at the Four Seasons in Maui. It’s absolutely beautiful alfresco dining with simple, great food — Wolfgang style! There are actually dolphins jumping in the ocean right in front of you, and a breathtaking sunset. I don’t even consider myself a romantic guy, but this experience was special — and my wife agrees!”

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