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Kitchen Love Stories
Romance can be tough when you're a chef. By Ann Limpert
Comments () | Published February 1, 2005
How do you keep love alive when you work long hours and come home smelling like garlic? In honor of Valentine's Day--one of the busiest nights in restaurant kitchens--we talked to married couples who cook together.

Aaron Zimmer, sous chef, and Jewel Zimmer, pastry chef, at CityZen in DC's Mandarin Oriental hotel.

How did you meet?

Aaron: We were working at La Folie in San Francisco. I was a cook; Jewel did the pastries.

Jewel: I got deported back to Canada. Aaron sold everything he owned, and we moved to Italy for a year--cooking in a little town in Tuscany. We got engaged there.

What was your wedding like?

Aaron: We had a small wedding in St. Helena, California, at a friend's restaurant, Tra Vigne. A classic Italian wedding feast. Our friend brought white truffles. The sommelier gave us free range of the wine cellar. My family owns a fish company and sent a kilo of their best caviar--split among 14 people.

Your honeymoon?

Jewel: We went to Thailand. We took cooking classes.

What's it like working together?

Aaron: There's a flow between us. I don't get angry when Jewel's in a bad mood. She might not be very nice, but I know she's stressed. It's the same the other way around. The first time we'd ever worked apart--that was the hardest two years.

Jewel: We come as a pair. Otherwise we wouldn't have a relationship for sure.

Susan Scheffler and Louis Nickell, co-owners and chefs at Nickell's & Scheffler in Old Town Alexandria.

When did you meet?

Susan: A friend introduced us at the Culinary Institute of America. We're both career changers, so we're older than the typical people starting out at CIA.

Louis: We were both focused on school. Nothing happened until we ended up working at the Marriott in Bethesda. I was in the kitchen and Susan was wearing a black tuxedo as a management trainee.

Where was your first date?

Susan: The Iwo Jima memorial. I asked him.

Louis: We sat down and four hours later we'd told each other our life stories. We walked and walked and ended up at an Ethiopian restaurant.

Susan: When the guy walked through with the roses, he got me a rose.

What's your favorite romantic spot?

Susan: We love Euro Bistro in Herndon--the chef is Louie's mentor. When we were courting we loved Bistro 123 in Vienna. And 1789, in front of the fireplace.

The challenges of working with your spouse?

Susan: It's hard to have two chefs in the kitchen. Louie, having grown up in Hawaii, likes to go in an Asian way. I like to go in a French or Southern way.

Louis: It tends to lead to some good ideas.

Susan: I wanted to work with Louie. I waited a long time to get married. I'm making up for all the years I wasn't married to him--compressing it.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 02/01/2005 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles