There's so many reasons why I love this post!
First, if your twitter timeline is anything like mine, then you'd know there's often (surprisingly) intense conversations about cooking. It comes in different forms, but many times relates to women being the ones to cook. It could be whether a girlfriend should be cooking for her man before she has a ring or whether a girl who is great in the kitchen is likely to find love faster. Oh, the married ladies are often not exempt. Should married women cook for their men all the time? Or sometimes they debate the question of men who demand fresh food for every meal - i.e straight from the cooker to his plate - no freezing, no microwaves.
I think these conversations are often unnecessary and there are no clear cut answers. But I guess they arise because of two things most people get weak knees for; Love & Food! What better time to explore this than valentine - the generally accepted day of love.
I'm not hugely into valentine, I love greeting cards with mushy wordings and will hardly say no to good food, preferably home made with love. I intended to outright ask Tee to make some romantic dinner either on the 14th or later that weekend. But just in case he'd need some inspiration, I decided to ask the experts!
And you guessed right - I chose to ask the men. Because you know what's super cool? A man who knows how to cook!
So nine male chefs share with us what to cook for the one you love on Valentine's Day! Whether it's a romantic dinner or even one for your parents, food is always a good idea! So, from breakfast to 3 course lunches or dinners, they've given us all the scoop.
In the spirit of valentine, two of the chefs also share their hilarious valentine experience!
- First Row (L-R): Chef Fregz, Chef Stone and Chef Alex
- Second Row (L-R): Chef Benedict, Naija Chef, and T0biSmith
- Third Row (L-R): Rad Economist, Chef Eros and Chef Dadisi
1. Gbubemi Fregene - @Cheffregz
- Private chef & catering
- attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Paris
- Knorr Taste Quest Judge (Nigeria)
Even if you can't be bothered to cook, these are full proof ways of impressing your valentine! For the salad, go to a fancy store and buy fancy salad leaves, look up a salad dressing recipe and use it and serve the salad with some cold cut of meat to make it more interesting.
The main course should really be special but again nothing too complex to stress you out. Make a seared steak with crushed potatoes for the main course. Just boil your potatoes till done and mash it with a potato masher till still lumpy. Season with butter garlic and salt.
Dessert is easiest of them all. Make a set panacotta or again plate some good quality ice-cream near some really good bout of chocolate cake. My weapon is salted caramel, so use this too.
2. Abiola Akanji (Chef Stone) - @uberstigg
- Profesionally trained at French Culinary Institute, New York
- Founder, Red Dish Chronicles Culinary School
If cooking for a romantic valentine, it has to be Italian as there's a lot romance surrounding the Italians. And I think everybody loves pasta
So, for the main course, I'll recommend fettuccini in puttanesca sauce and a seared salmon fillet. Dessert definitely has to be tiramisau!
3. Alex Oke - @alexcooksfood
- Pastry Geek, Baker & Pattisier
- Classically trained in culinary/pastry arts from Canada's leading Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Founder - XO Boutique Bakery - @xobakery
I think breakfast in bed is always a good idea, and could be a really romantic thing to do for your partner this Valentine's Day. Heart shaped waffles, red berries, whipping cream, dark chocolate fondue - would get the day off on the right foot.
Don't do all the cooking though! Go out for dinner, don't be scared to splurge on the right kind of food and wine!
4. Benedict Okuzu - @chefbenedict
- Professionally trained at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, Florence Italy
- Private Catering - & specialises in authentic Italian food (as he grew up in Italy!)
- Believes that "the belly rules the mind"
I'd recommend something exotic and intense - a fruity main with a hint of chilli and an intense dessert. Spicy prawn fettuccine garnished with orange zest would be a great main. And for dessert, peaches poached in red wine and brown sugar, then coated in 80% dark chocolate. Both are simple and straight forward to make.
KT: Another Fettuccine! Seems like it's a winner.
5. Ayoola Lapite - @naijachef
- Loves Nigerian Food!
- Food Blogger and shares YouTube videos (with his wife Mrs NaijaChef!)
- YouTube Channel: NaijaChef
I'd start off with a salad of greens topped with shaved coconut, dates, raisins, and my avocado dressing.
The main course will be fried rice and grilled chicken breast - my wife loves Chinese food and chicken breast, so that's inspired by her.
And to top it off for dessert, simple vanilla ice cream, topped with strawberries, bananas and a drizzle of warm chocolate.
Why: This meal is such a win for married people as it's aphrodisiac heavy and is sure to have your spouse feeling all warm and fuzzy after dinner.
(Update: Influenced by this post, NaijaChef actually prepared this dish and you can check it on his blog here)
My Funny valentine story: When I was in SS1 or SS2 (10th or 11th grade), I had a package delivered during a class. My whole class was already like whooaaa, who is sending you a package in school on valentine's day? Only to open it and it was a massive valentine card from my dad. Looking back now, it's nice and cool, but back then, was a tad bit embarassing!
6. Oluwakolapo Smith - @T0biSmith
- Food Enthusiast
- In his words - "All I do is Cook"
As a Nigerian man I would say make your valentine's favourite soup and swallow. Why? Because those dishes aren't super easy, the amount of effort that goes into it would probably show a high level of care. Personally, I'll recommend pounded yam and Egusi soup. That's always a win.
7. Akudo Agokei - @radeconomist
- Nigerian cook with a love for all kinds of food
- In his words- "my Fiancee eats!"
I personally think the perfect Valentines day romantic meal is pounded yam and Efo with Maltina or small stout, so she can eat and relax in your arms once the Poundo-itis takes effect. I joke (kinda).
The perfect meal would be to serve duck breast; duck served with a sweet potato pottage and a teriyaki-hoisin sauce. I recommend this meal because of all the meats, I think duck breast is the only one that requires proper TLC.
When you make duck breast, you get as much from it as you put in, you have to take your time to reduce the fat and while duck fat is healthier than other meats’ fat, I personally (and my fiancée as well) find that, duck skin when crispy after reduction is just unrivalled in taste.
Now, most people tend to expect savoury dishes and never expect the hints of ‘sweet’, which is where the sweet potato pottage kicks in to give that “ohhh” feeling. The teriyaki-hoisin sauce is the priest that goes to the crispy duck breast and potato pottage; “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you main course”. It compliments the duck so well, on its own with the sweet potato, it is not as interesting, but with the duck present, a miracle happens.
My Valentine Story: This made me think about how far in love my Fiancée and I have come. When we met, we were so in Love, I never believed in love at first sight, but when I laid eyes on this woman, the only words I heard in my head were “This is my wife!”. 2 weeks later, it was valentines day, and I went all out, cleared everything in my living room except a table, red table cloth, red roses in a glass vase, red scented candles, prepared a 3 course meal, I even hired this guitar player off the streets and told him to wear a tuxedo, and had him playing one of those Spanish “maria mariaa…..” type of tune. Went up to the bedroom and had roses laid out on the bed with her gifts perfectly wrapped, had some little snacks in a lovely red bowl and then we watched a romantic movie. Our love grew every single day, and one year later, we were 50 times more in love than when we first met and we spent valentines doing what most couples never dream of doing; Eating chicken wings and complaining about how “people read too much into this valentine’s day, it’s just a day, who has the energy to glam up and go waste money in a restaurant.”
8. Tolu Eros - @cheferos
- Private Chef & Fine Dining Catering
- Founder: @iamcookiejar - gourmet cookies and cupcakes, luxurious cakes, pastries and desserts.
I'll totally say "Breakfast in Bed". Keep it simple. Eggs (however they like it) buttered toast, baked beans, sausages, bacon, freshly squeezed orange juice and a bowl of fresh fruit salad. Deliver these on a tray with fresh roses and a little note of love
KT: Another breakfast in bed. Easy to pull off, but so cute. Not sure of how to cook the eggs, see this post on 5(+1) Different and Easy Ways to Cook and Enjoy Eggs
9. Dadisi Olutosin - @dadisiolutosin
- Culinarian & Future Restaurateur
I'll suggest you keep it simple. My suggestion is to go with chicken, chicken thighs specifically because that's the most flavourful part of the chicken. I would go with roasted skin on chicken, mashed potatoes, and sauteed spinach or swiss chard. Keep the dessert simple, you can never go wrong with chocolate cake and ice cream.
I enjoyed hearing these recommendations, and I hope you'll be inspired to show love to someone this season through food. I know we'll definitely try out some of these!
While putting this piece together, I realised there are actually a good number of men who love to cook - which is great. Cooking shouldn't be limited to women.
Thank you again to all of these awesome people for sharing - it was definitely short notice, and they're all such busy people, but still took the time to respond. I'll admit I was a bit persistent. Also I originally phrased the question to relate to romantic meals (that's why most of the responses are tilted that way). But on second thought, Valentine should really be about sharing love to anyone - friends, siblings, co-workers. So why not do so with a meal!
Cooking was definitely one on this list of 10 Do-able & Fun-at-home Ideas for Couples - so even if we're on a budget, we can pull these off!
So share your thoughts! How are you spending Valentine? Would you be cooking? If yes, what & for who? If you're not, what would you love someone to cook for you? Please share, we'd love to hear
pS: Guess what, NaijaChef above is married to Koboko Fitness, who we featured when Nine Female Fitness Experts Share their Top Tips! Couple Goals maybe? One person's got the cooking sorted, the other's got the exercise & fitness.
ppS: It's okay if you didn't know what some of those foods meant. I had no clue what fettuccine (just another kind of pasta!) and tiramisu (coffee-flavoured Italian custard dessert) meant. But I did some digging. So feel free to dig too.