Pulling off your very own Valentine’s Day dinner can be intimidating for even the most experienced of cooks. So, we sat down with the founder of Sinful Food and spice aficionado, Chris Lee, to demystify the special day and give you the tools you need to conquer Cupid.
Chris’ gourmet food and spice company specializes in delectable olive oils and exotic spices, making him the perfect authority on impressing your dinner guests this Valentines.
Modere: The pressure of Valentine’s Day can be intimidating. Any tips for the amateur cook?
Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year that’s supposed to be centered around the ones you love and care about. Whether you are cooking for your significant other or family and friends, put your heart into it and you can’t go wrong.
Some guidelines I try to follow when cooking for Valentines:
• Plan ahead of time and make it a full course meal.
• Watch online cooking demos and read up on how to prepare the dishes.
• Do it in secret and make it a surprise.
• Use your fanciest dinnerware and light candles to make the evening more intimate.
• Don’t put the food out on the table buffet style. Instead, take the extra step to garnish and make a beautiful presentation for your food.
• Serve the food course by course and clear the dishes after each course
• The best and most memorable meals are the ones that come from the heart. You’ll never be lead astray if you truly put your heart into it and spoil the ones you love.
What’s your go-to recipe for your special someone when Valentine’s Day rolls around?
I actually don’t have a go-to recipe for Valentine’s Day, and neither should you. It’s important to mix it up every year and try something new because doing the same thing time after time may not be very enjoyable for your guests (or you).
What ingredients really shine on Cupid’s day?
There are so many ingredients to choose from. It really depends on your palette and what your significant other and family or friends like to eat so I always try to think of every individual that will be joining me for the meal. Some have allergies or food sensitivities and I will customize for that person. Always be thinking of others so they can actually eat (and enjoy) the meal you’re making them.
That being said, chocolate is always a great ingredient on Cupid’s day. Never forget your desserts when preparing your meal. I personally like to make meals a little more decadent on Valentines and tend to use chocolate with a variety of berries.
Love is blind, but taste isn’t. What’s your biggest Valentine’s Day disaster?
I disagree that love is blind. I think everyone can see love, whether it’s in buying flowers or earnestly trying your hand at a romantic meal. So, I don’t feel like I’ve had a big Valentines disaster because I always try to put my heart into my cooking and do my best to make the night memorable. It really comes down to showing your guests that you care and if you make the effort, it will show.
Sometimes simpler is safer. What are some easy to make, easy to remember snacks for this holiday?
It’s hard to go off course with cheese and cracker or relish trays. Also, breads with dipping sauces (like olive oil with balsamic vinegar) make a great addition to any Valentines meal. If you and your guests are partial to shrimp, shrimp cocktail is a classic and a personal favorite of mine.
It really depends on the people you are cooking for. Remember that Valentines isn’t about you, it’s about the ones you love. Think about each person you are cooking for so that nobody feels left out. In the end, a full course meal (made with obvious effort and care) will rein king and (hopefully) be unforgettable.