Feature

Boston's Cutest Culinary Power Couples

By Scott Kearnan | February 13, 2014 By Scott Kearnan  |  February 13, 2014
Photo by: Eric Wolinger

By now, you hopefully have your Valentine's Day reservations in order. (If not - how do you feel about spending the night in that new hotel, Chez Couch?) But while you and your honey are out enjoying great food, fine wine and a romantic ambiance, tip your glass to some hard working couples who will spend the evening apart to make it happen. Sparks often fly between hospitality types (you need someone who understands those hours), and we found a few adorable culinary couples who made us believe in love at first bite. 

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  • The Couple: Peter McKenzie (Boston 30 under 30 honoree and sous chef at Rialto) and Mareena McKenzie (sous pastry chef at Ribelle)

    How They Met: The cute twosome met while working at Straight Wharf (him) and Provisions (her), sibling Nantucket restaurants, in Summer 2010. 

    How Long They've Been Together: Nearly four years. Much newer, though, is their role as parents. Their son Dylan Eliot McKenzie was born just last month.

    Most Romantic Food Moment: "We had our wedding at our home in Somerville," explains Peter, whose brother Sam, pictured far left, officiated. "I decided to roast a whole pig for the occasion: the first and only time I've ever done it at my house. The pig came out of the roasting box, we had a toast, and I fed her the heart. The day ended with some collateral damage - the side of my house ended up melting a bit from the pig roast. But it was worth it." 

    How They're Spending V-Day: Working. But hopefully they'll have time to pig out together afterwards. 

  • The Couple: Matt O'Neil (co-owner and chef at Blue Ox) and Joanna O'Neil (co-owner and manager) 


    How They Met: They had mutual friends at the same Swampscott high school, but it wasn't until a post-university chat in a Salem bar (discussing their thoughts on the "best pizza in town," natch) that they felt "the spark." Soon Matt wooed her with his homemade calzones. 


    How Long They've Been Together: Since 2005. 


    Most Romantic Food Moment: Matt's wedding proposal at Cambria Vineyards in Santa Maria, California. First came a private tour and tasting by winemaker Denise Shurtleff, then a picnic lunch overlooking 1,000 acres of vineyards, with the fresh Golden State ingredients and delicious wines otherwise unavailable to the public.


    How They're Spending V-Day: Making sure that the 250-plus guests booked for Blue Ox have their most romantic time.

  • The Couple: Desiree Rose (maitre d' at The Beehive) and Chris Bauers (chef at jm Curley

    How They Met: Working together at Cambridge's recently shuttered UpStairs on the Square, where he was chef and the hostess. "She hunted me down for a while. I was completely oblivious," admits Bauers. 

    How Long They've Been Together: A year and a half.

    Most Romantic Food Moment: Bauers may be the one working in a kitchen, Rose is no slouch in the culinary department. "We had a Chopped style competition with lasagna at our apartment one night," recalls Bauers. "I had to concede because she got so creative that my traditional noodle didn't stand a chance. So now out dates revolve around learning about wine and cheese together."

    How They're Spending V-Day: First, work. Then, a romantic late night Chinese feast. 

  • The Couple: Tim Wiechmann (Chef-owner of T.W. Food and Bronwyn) and Bronwyn Wiechmann (managing partner) 

    How They Met: She was waitressing at Perdix, which soon became Ten Tables. Wiechmann stepped in as chef. The rest is history. 

    How Long They've Been Together: They started dating in 2002 and married in 2006. 

    Most Romantic Food Moment: Tim is torn between two very different experiences. "Either cozying into a booth at Santarpio's Pizza in East Boston for some of the best pizza around, or trying belon oysters and frog legs on a foggy winter day for a four hour lunch in Lille, the northern seafood Mecca an hour outside of Paris."

    How They're Spending V-Day: When you're in the hospitality biz, holidays are all about taking care of other people. (Noticing a trend here?) Though "Bron will spend the day at Bron" and Tim at T.W., he promises, "We'll make it up a few days later. And of course, slip in a card or something sweet!"

  • The Couple: Michael Schlow (chef-owner of Via Matta, Tico and Alta Strada) and Adrienne Schlow (former co-owner of Glory Restaurant)

    How They Met: When Adrienne would visit Schlow's former Radius for its special guest chef dinners. (One memorable night: a 20-top for dining with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi.) Michael never failed to notice a woman so "beautiful with a commanding presence," and eventually "worked up the courage" to introduce himself. 

    How Long They've Been Together: They married in 2012. But Adrienne was actually Michael's very first date after his divorce. They first stayed friends for years before taking it to the next level. Adrienne is an avid painter, and at a house warming party Michael made the flirty move of pretending to "steal" a piece of her art; it now hangs over the front door of their home. 

    Most Romantic Food Moment: An all-time favorite was sharing a beautiful, private lunch of impeccably fresh seafood and delicious white wine on the beach in the coastal Italian town of Forte dei Marme.

    How They're Spending V-Day: On Valentine's Day they will be cooking and celebrating with their two daughters, Petra and Axelle. But a few nights later, a nice private dinner will likely be in order. 

  • The Couple: Carolyn Johnson (executive chef at 80 Thoreau) and Bill Flumerfelt (chef at Nubar)

    How They Met: The lovebirds worked together at the late Icarus in Boston's South End. 

    How Long They've Been Together: A lucky 13 years. 

    Most Romantic Food Moment: Their first date, spent apple picking. (Straight to farm-to-table dining, these two.) They're also passionate home brewers, which we're sure keeps their relationship buzzing. 

    How They're Spending V-Day: This week they taught a class at the Boston Center for Adult Education, "Date Night Dinners." Alas, they won't be having their own on Friday. They'll be working at the restaurants. Said the couple, "We don’t usually do any Valentine’s Day celebrations for ourselves. We are just relieved when it is over!"

  • The Couple: Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (chef-owners of M.C. Perkins Cove and the just-opened M.C. Spiedo Ristorante & Bar)

    How They Met: Working at Jeremiah Towers' legendary Stars restaurant in San Francisco.

    How Long They've Been Together: 28 years. ("Oh, we were so young!")

    Most Romantic Food Moment: First, a day spent floating on a pool mat and drinking champagne at a Napa bed & breakfast. Then dining at a late French restaurant in Calistoga called La Rhone. There was just one problem: "We didn't realize it was cash only, and had to frantically search the car for spare change to pay the bill!" 

    How They're Spending V-Day: Are you kidding? It's opening week, guys. 

  • The Couple: Chris Coombs (chef-owner of Boston Chops, Deuxave and dbar) and Viktoriya Bulavinova Coombs (service captain at Deuxave) 

    How They Met: Working at dbar. Viktoriya had recently arrived from Russia and working as a bar back and busser. Chris, still not the chef, was consulting for the restaurant one day a week. His first words to her: "You're beautiful. If you didn't have a boyfriend, I would marry you." The boyfriend was gone a few months later. And in a few years, Chris made good on his promise. 

    How Long They've Been Together: Since 2006. 

    Most Romantic Food Moment: Breakfast every morning at their home. Chris refers to "Vika" as his “Breakfast Chef.” Viktoriya begins the day (and helps him get focused) by making him an omelet with fresh fruits on the side. Chris admits he's usually "too busy to remember to eat" while at work, (which is all so Vika makes sure the chef stays fed too. 

    How They're Spending V-Day: Do you really have to ask? When you're enjoying your Valentine's Dinner this year, remember that you're able to celebrate because some cute culinary couples put their own date night on the back burner. 

Places Mentioned

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Rialto Restaurant

Italian Cambridge
Food26 Decor25 Service25 Cost$64

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