Last year, Dallas chef Bylthe Beck dished on how chefs -- those unseen working horse of cupid's desires -- feel about Valentine's Day. There's a lot of stress back in that kitchen knowing there's an abundance of high hopes out in their dining room.
This year I tracked down a couple more chefs. Let's get to it.
Anthony Bourdain was out of the country, but Brian Malarky from ABC's The Taste was happy to oblige. Malarky has five restaurants in the San Diego area with plans to expand to 15 restaurants over the next five years. Below are my questions and a few impudent responses, including a guessing game and menu innuendo.
Plus, keep reading for our very own Josh Valentine. It's his day after all.
Chefs hate Valentine's Day. Why? It's not hate; it's more that we don't get it because we never get to HAVE IT! I have never had a Valentine's Day off and now after sitting on the sidelines for so many years ... I am positive I do not want to get into that game. However, we love building menus with as much sexual provocative innuendos as possible. I mean, $69 pre fix is common.
What's the typical mood like in a kitchen on Valentine's Day? Everyone is excited about the "special" menu we always put together, but we do also like to play a little game and try to guess how long couples have been together. From the couple that has been together for years and only go out because they have to, or the new couple who is drinking lots and eating less waiting to go bounce the backboard off the wall. Unless they drink to much and make a go at it in the restrooms ...
What's the most asinine request you've gotten on Valentine's Day? We have hid engagement rings in everything from oysters to the sweets of the day.
Surely, there have been some proposals. Ever seen anyone get declined? Thankfully, no. But I love the story in Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential where the bride takes one last "Piece of Pie" from the chef! It's a great read and inspires generation of "Dirty Pirate Chefs."
What's your advice for someone who is looking to woo on Valentine's Day? Of course come to one of my restaurants, or be original and prepare a great dinner or picnic (hell, I will do it for you) and just hang out someplace nice and quite - just the two of you. If I ever had a Valentine's Day off that's what I would do... but I love what I do, my wife and I go out a few days before or a few days after.
What's your advice for the forever alone on Valentine's Day? Go out with friends for many drinks and vent about it! Or do some people watching and play the guessing game. There is always next year!
So, Mr. Valentine, do you have strong feelings about February 14? Obviously, I feel pretty special about having a holiday named after me. Other than that it's just another day to buy my wife something.
As a pastry chef, would you liken Valentine's Day to a quickfire challenge? Not so much. I know what to expect when V-Day hits.
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SHOW ME HOW
Next to Mother's Day, Google says it's the busiest day of the year for restaurants. (Actually, I didn't Google it. Just guessing.) But, is this an exciting opportunity or stressful day for chefs? This is just another day. After planning the menu the rest is fairly easy.
Last year Blythe Beck said the mood in kitchens on VD is "sweaty, stressful, hung over, pissed off, fast-paced, high-energy, urgent, fun, and soaked in shots of espresso and red bull." Agree? Have anything to add to it? That pretty much sums it up. Except I prefer Monsters over Red Bull.
Surely you've gotten some special requests over the years, perhaps help carrying out a proposal or two. Any stick out - particularly any fails? Yeah I've done plenty of proposals. But no epic fails unfortunately. That would be hysterical.
What's your advice for someone who is looking to woo their soul mate next Thursday? I think V-Day is not the day to woo your mate. It's too obvious. Be a little more spontaneous.