This is part of our series called “Kitchen Stories” where we share stories from our team and our customers about how they use gatheredtable (and tips for the kitchen in general). Have a story to share? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily is part of our team at gatheredtable. This is her kitchen story…
Last fall I took up dating like it was an extreme sport: A different date every night of the week for several weeks – 15 bachelors in all (who I playfully referred to by number when in conversation with friends). With so much time invested, I decided to turn my dates into things I spend my weekends doing anyways: thinking about dinner, shopping for dinner, and making dinner. It turned out to be the best way to date! Not only did I actually get my weekend cooking done it’s also a great way to figure out if you’re compatible with someone.
Dating in the kitchen doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be!) only with someone new (see my review of the cookbook Date Night It by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt). Cooking is a great way to spend time together whether it’s your first date or your five-hundredth.
Top lessons from dating in the kitchen:
1. Cook on Saturday
There is nothing worse than meeting up at 6:30 on Friday, still in your work clothes, going shopping, cooking something new (and probably “hard”, see below) and not eating until 9:30. (I mean, it’s a date you’re going to get a little distracted once or twice). So cook on Saturday, meet a little earlier, and don’t let yourself get hangry (it’s not attractive)
2. Gauge the experience level first
If you’re an expert and the person you’re cooking with thinks that toast is an adventure make sure to choose something at the right level. My favorite basic is a roast chicken. It’s easy (not a lot of chopping or hands-on work), but out of the ordinary for most people to prepare, and pretty reliably delicious. Also, it tells you a lot of important things – are you cool really getting your hands dirty? Bachelor #4 looked at me liked I’d lost it when I brought out the whole chicken, Bachelor #1 dug right in and got spice into every nook and cranny of that bird.
3. Check in on food allergies
Sorry about that shrimp Bachelor #5…
4. Don’t worry about the outcome
Dating in the kitchen is first and foremost a date, it’s not necessarily about the food, even thought that’s a nice by product. Don’t worry if things are chopped wrong (I mean can you really chop something wrong?) or if its not perfectly seared. Still make sure you cook meat thoroughly but beyond that don’t worry.
5. Either be comfortable with the recipe, or with each other
e.g. Don’t do a hard recipe the first time you’re in the kitchen together, but if you’re old hat at cooking together try something a little harder. Bachelor #1 graduated from roast chicken to homemade Asian dumplings pretty quickly.
6. Make it feel a little more special than just making dinner
Break open the wine, put on some music, do whatever makes it feel a little more special than a normal day. I got a set of “date night” aprons that at least started cleaner and less dorky than my everyday ones.
- Roast Chicken – easy and reliably delicious, but far enough out of people’s comfort zone to serve as a bit of a test.
- Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad – Do you know what a Brussels sprout is? Are you willing to ask if you don’t? Homemade salad dressing – fun or crazy? And LOTS of chopping to test both patience and knife skills.
- Pie – Do you have the finesse to roll out a pie crust, more importantly are you willing to learn? Or do you just smash it?
- Asian dumplings – these are a bit of a marathon, so are only recommended for a second or third cooking date but they tell you a lot about if people are willing to persevere. First date I tried these with we ordered Chinese delivery… Second time (different date), it might have taken us three hours but we had the best dumplings ever!
I weeded out a fair number of people who just weren’t into the idea of cooking for a date, couldn’t communicate, or who nearly maimed me… I might not have found a professional chef, but I did find a willing participant, taste tester, and expert dish washer so I consider it a win (he was Bachelor #1, sometimes the first one is the best one).