Valentine’s Day Surprise Proposal Dinner

As a personal chef, I regularly get a front row seat to some of life’s most special moments. From birthday celebrations to anniversary dinners and business deals, I am there in the kitchen just off to the side when people celebrate the most important moments of their life.

Valentine’s Day is usually one of the most sought after dates for a Romantic Dinner for Two. This year, I was contacted six weeks ahead of the big date by a young man who planned to use the big Vday holiday to propose to his girlfriend. We sent many emails back and forth developing the menu, and this one went in a different direction than normal. Often, people choose to have “fancy” foods for these special meals, choosing expensive proteins and exotic preparations. He wanted instead to choose dishes that had significance for them as a couple.

He remembered with fondness having shrimp quesadillas at Dos Caminos on their first date, and insisted on having that on the menu. No problem! I just had to make fresh tortillas! He also wanted a Caesar Salad, since it’s their favorite salad, and they order it all the time when eating out. She adores scallops, so that HAD to be on the menu, and he wanted a special romantic dessert that would be a lead-in to popping the question. We had planned for apple-cinnamon empanadas at first, in keeping with the Southwestern theme, but a week before the big event, he had second thoughts about that, wanting to make the dessert the proposal. I suggested the heart-shaped apple tarts, but how to write “Will you marry me?” on them? If I were to use icing, it would melt quickly given the hot tart. Luckily a friend of his suggested a piece of chocolate with the message written on it. He took care of buying that ao I could focus on preparing the meal.

It’s always an honor to be there when a couple gets engaged, and this one was extra special. He was SOOO nervous, and I think this meal went by faster than normal, since he was anxious to get to the end. Rather than waiting 15-20 minutes between courses, he signaled quickly that he was ready for the next course. We had decided in advance that when it came time to bring out the dessert with the proposal message on it, I’d call him into the kitchen to “help” me bring it out, so that he could take it to her himself. She was genuinely surprised. She really had no idea that this would be anything more than a romantic meal. I hung back in the kitchen to give them their privacy, but I heard every word. His speech to her was one for the movies, as he explained why he had chosen each course, and what she means to him. I could hear him choking up as he got to the end and asked her to marry him, and I was tearing up a little myself! Luckily, she said yes!

As you can imagine, when I’m cooking these dinners, my primary focus is always the preparation of the food, but I do manage to find a few moments here and there to snap photos with my iPhone, which admittedly, doesn’t produce the best photos. However, it’s a quick and easy way to document the dishes, and I can share them in almost real time via twitter and Whrrl. Here’s the photo essay from Whrrl:

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If you’re in New York City and would like to have me prepare a special meal for you, call me at 917-405-0088 for info.

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