Feature

9 Coolest Culinary Power Couples in Austin

By Veronica Meewes  |  February 29, 2016
Credit: Annie Ray

Behind every successful Austin food business is a hard-working, passionate entrepreneur...or two! Meet these nine adorable culinary duos making Austin a more delicious place through teamwork and collaboration. 

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  • Nicole & Jeremy Portwood of Spartan Pizza

    How and where they met: Nicole was living in New York and went out to see a band one night with friends. Jeremy was the drummer in another band playing that same night. They ended up talking outside the club ("We were like two long-lost souls that finally got a chance to talk," says Jeremy) and hung out the next night before Jeremy piled into a car with his bandmates and headed back to North Carolina. They dated long distance for the next four months before he moved into her apartment in New York.

    Favorite meal they've shared together: Even while living on a tight New York budget, the two scrimped and saved to splurge on amazing meals. Their favorite to date was a three-and-a-half-hour-long, seven-course tasting menu dinner at Mario Batali's Babbo.

    Favorite things to do together when not working: They have always loved cooking together and still do so six nights a week ("But one night a week is pizza because come on!" says Nicole). They also love spending time outside together with their kids and just started to prepare a summer garden. "We both love the process, digging in the dirt, getting messy and having delicious fruits and vegetables to show for it," says Nicole.

  • Chris Hurley and Jennifer Costello of The Bonneville

    How and where they met: Jenn was the hot-apps cook and Chris was the sous-chef at The Blue Room in Cambridge. They immediately bonded over food and travel and became good friends. Once Chris left the restaurant, the two began dating.

    Favorite meal they've shared together: In Alba, Italy, on their first vacation together, they rented a Vespa and tried to find a restaurant for dinner. Everyone was completely booked due to tourists coming in for the Barolo Festival, which they were unaware of, but they found a tiny enoteca. "The owners took pity on us and served us the most amazing platter of salumi and then wouldn't let us leave until we shared most of a bottle of grappa with them!" says Chris.

    Favorite things to do together when not working: Eating and traveling remain their common passions they two do together as often as possible — whether that means a small day trip to Smitty's in Lockhart for barbecue or an upcoming summer trip to Brussels. But most of all, "we really just like spending time together," says Jenn. "After 10 years of marriage and working together every day, he can still make me belly-laugh like no one else on the planet."

  • Credit: Jody Horton

    Emmett and Lisa Fox of ASTI Trattoria and CANTINE Italian Café & Bar

    How and where they met: While Emmett was chef at The Wild Goose Restaurant in Boston, Lisa came in for happy hour with friends. One of the cooks introduced her to Emmett, who invited her back in with a friend for an eight-course meal with wines to match. "I really just went for the free meal in a really nice restaurant," admits Lisa. "But by the end of the meal, I was definitely interested in getting to know this charming, talented chef with the ponytail. We were married two years later."

    Favorite meal they've shared together: A dinner at the La Tour Rose in Lyon, France, remains most memorable because they had just started traveling together and the experience was quite a splurge for them. It began with pile of fried herbs and champagne, then oysters and pearls, salmon mi cuit​, very delicately smoked with the entire fish presented tableside, lamb chops and vegetables. Next came a cheese cart, gâteau cart and a chocolate cart! "All so French and elegant but not a bit stuffy," remembers Lisa. "After that, we went downstairs to the bar to have cognac, then floated back to our hotel."

    Favorite things to do together when not working: The two maintain a passion for travel, both by themselves and with friends. They like to totally immerse themselves in the local culture, going to markets, wineries and pasta and olive factories.

  • Yauss Berenji and Sascha Biesi of Skull and Cakebones

    How and where they met:  "I can’t remember the exact moment we met, because it was like we had always known each other," says Yauss, who was Sascha's younger sister's good friend. The two spent every day of the summer cruising through the neighborhood, coffee in hand, windows down and music blasting, until Sascha left for school. They maintained their connection no matter how far apart they lived and, 12 years later, they began dating.

    Favorite meal they've shared together: Meals cooked together and unanimously their favorite, and Sasha loves it when Yauss cooks her family's Iranian dishes. "Her culture has opened my taste buds to so many amazing things, and I want to try them all," says Sascha." I love meals with her whole big family when everyone is fighting over the crispy rice (tahdig)."

    Favorite things to do together when not working: When the two aren't baking up a storm and delivering cupcakes all around town, they can't relax enough together, whether that means getting in some serious couch time, hanging out on their "island" (bed) with their cats, or exploring Austin. "My favorite days are the ones when we spend the day outside exploring Austin, windows down, music up, with coffee in hand," says Yauss. 

  • Josh and Paige Kaner of Pieous

    How and where they met: Paige and Josh met while working in-house Virgin Records in LA back in the '90s. "We were both just mere 'babes in the woods' with a shared passion for food," says Paige. "Josh had a ponytail at the time, was super stylish and looked like a rock star. I think he caught me checking him out from behind my desk, but I somehow managed to play it off."

    Favorite meal they've shared together: After 20 years of dinners together, there are several stand-outs, from the very first dinner Josh made for Paige (a five-course meal featuring his handmade penne arrabiata) to the experimental homemade pizzas that inspired the opening of Pieous to a memorable date at The Ivy in the Beverly Hills, where Josh convinced their waiter to serve them the fried chicken that was leftover from the staff meal.

    Favorite things to do together when not working: Josh notes his favorite pastimes are "Eating some kind of Asian food, exploring the food scene, playing with the kids, and resting — not necessarily in that order!" They make a point of closing for two to three weeks during both summer and winter to spend time together as a family.

  • Tim and Corey Sorenson of Cow Tipping Creamery

    How and where they met: The two met while attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, where they lived in the same dorms and would run into each other in the basement laundry room. After some flirtatious smiles, Tim asked Corey out to the movies. "We went and saw The Bear, where we were treated to a prolonged mating scene," remembers Tim. "Corey blushed so red you could see it in the dark of the theater. After, we went to the Chelsea Square Restaurant where Corey, trying to be nice, only ordered a salad and I got a cheeseburger and fries."

    Favorite meal they've shared together: Though they've shared too many great dinners to pick just one, a stand-out was a night at the Sonoma Mission Inn for their third anniversary, while Corey was four months pregnant. After a day of relaxing in the beautiful wine country, they shared an unforgettable dinner — Tim had pheasant with wild rice and cranberries stuffed under the skin and Corey had pork medallions and garlic potato mash. They finished the meal with a Tahitian vanilla bean panna cotta and a chocolate cake. "The day, the night and the food was perfect," says Tim.

    Favorite things to do together when not working: Besides dining together, they love going to the movies (preferably theaters with lounge chairs), taking walks and enjoying weekend getaways whenever possible — like a recent trek to hip, artsy Marfa for New Year's Eve. "Tim was and still is a unique individual and has always sparked my creative flame," says Corey.

  • Chad Palmatier and Anthony Sobotik of Lick Honest Ice Creams

    How are where they met: The two met at a mixer for young gay professionals at Planet Hollywood in Times Square. "I went with a friend for the free drinks and it turned out there weren't any," says Chad. "I ended up talking with Anthony and then he invited himself along to hang out with us after we left the mixer. The rest is history."

    Favorite meal they've shared together: They both recall their very first date as their favorite meal thus far. After dinner at a charming little Italian restaurant in the West Village, they strolled through the neighborhood as it began to snow. "I knew that I wanted to be with Chad halfway through our meal," says Anthony.

    Favorite things to do together when not working: Home improvement is a favorite pastime of theirs; Chad is in charge of the interior, while Anthony leads all the landscaping. They also love cooking brunch together on the weekend, and find it the best way to connect and unwind outside of the busy work week.

  • John and Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese

    How and where they met: Kendall and John met during their junior year at Georgetown University through friends. "We had instant chemistry and flirted constantly, but kept having bad timing on making a move," recalls Kendall. "Finally, the night before Thanksgiving of senior year, I admitted my crush officially. Then, at the holiday dance, I pushed him against a wall and kissed him. Hey, no one ever accused me of being shy!"

    Favorite meal they've shared together: During their first date at The Melting Pot in Virginia in 2003, they indulged in fondue for three hours (go figure!) and shared intimate details of their lives with each other. "At the end of the meal, I felt the deepest trust I have every felt in another individual," says John. "After that dinner, we were inseparable and I have been that way ever since!" 

    Favorite things to do together when not working: John and Kendall love spending time with each other and their kids outside of work, whether it's just being outside together, sharing meals, piling in the car for an adventure or enjoying a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

  • Fernando and Lauren Marri of Boteco

    ​How are where they met: Lauren was working at an International School in the Empire State Building while Fernando, a recent transplant from Brazil, was studying English. She helped him find his first New York apartment and he brought her some feijoada (Brazil's national dish).

    Favorite meal they've shared together: Though the two have shared memorable meals all over the globe together, Lauren recalls the first time she tried his favorite Brazilian neighborhood restaurant, Bolão, for the first time, in his hometown Belo Horizonte, Brazil. "It was an amazing experience for me to connect with his culture through the food he grew up eating," she says. "We make sure to go back every time we are visiting!"

    Favorite things to do together when not working: When they're not traveling and exploring different foods and cultures around the world, they also love motorcycle rides, jet skis, hiking, playing guitar, dancing salsa and watching Law & Order: SVU together.

    >For more cool culinary couples, take a look at last year's list.