Jennifer Jasinski: Rioja, Stoic & Genuine, Euclid Hall and Bistro Vendome and Max MacKissock: unnamed restaurant opening this summer
Relationship status: Together for 10 years and "blissfully married," says Jasinski, for three-and-a-half years.
First encounter: They initially met at Rioja, Jasinski's flagship restaurant on Larimer Square. "I was off the night that Max first came to Rioja, but I came in for a snack with Beth Gruitch, my business partner, and when I saw Max, I thought he was incredibly handsome," says Jasinski. Three months after that initial introduction, they met up in Keystone for a weekend of skiing and had dinner at the Great Northern Tavern, where Max was cooking. "He made us an awesome meal, and then we started hanging out," explains Jasinski, who later invited MacKissock to cook with her at the Taste of Vail. "That’s when we started dating and hanging out all the time," says MacKissock, adding that he soon moved to Denver and the "rest is history."
Five words to describe your relationship: Happy, delicious, fun, like-minded and respectful.
Ups and downs of working in the same profession: "When we’re together and in the same space, we collaborate really well," says MacKissock. On the flip side, counters Jasinski, "We have really strong personalities and we’re both used to having our own way, especially in the kitchen, so we bicker about all the little things, but we’ve gotten much better." And if you ask one to describe the other, they speak in unison: "Brilliant."
Favorite date spots: The couple raves about Sushi Sasa, Wayne Conwell's Japanese restaurant in LoHi. "We love the food, we love the fish, we know everyone there, and it’s very comfortable for us," says Jasinski. "We like Fruition a lot too, because it’s cozy and romantic, and you always know it’s going to be delicious and comforting. But to be totally honest, Max makes the best meals at home."
On the horizon: MacKissock, who was most recently at Williams & Graham, is opening a new restaurant in early June. He's keeping the details close to his chest for the time being, but he shares this: "It's an 80211 zip code and within two miles from my house, and it’s going to be super-cool for sure." And on February 4, Jasinski will reopen Rioja, now 10 years old, following a massive interior remodel. "Beth and I put a lot of our own money back into our restaurants, and when people come to Denver, I really want Rioja to be the restaurant that they want to go to," says Jasinki. "We want to be better than ever."