Vedge, a vegan restaurant located in a historic building in Philadelphia, is the most recent joint venture by the husband-and-wife duo of executive chef Richard Landau and pastry chef Kate Jacoby. At home, Richard mostly does the cooking, though he and Kate agree it's a team effort when company's coming. In time for Valentine's Day, we chatted with the couple about putting romance on the menu.
VT: What's your current ingredient obsession?
Richard & Kate: Piri-piri, a Portuguese hot sauce. We got hooked on a recent trip to Madeira and the Azores.
VT: How do you negotiate time and space in the kitchen?
R & K: We worked side by side on the line at Horizons (the couple's first Philly restaurant), so we have a great sense of each other's timing. And after working together for more than a decade, we're really good at divvying things up and trusting each other.
VT: Are your cooking styles compatible? How do you approach any differences?
R & K: We both like an immaculate cooking area, so we're great about cleaning up messes as they happen in order to keep things neat and orderly. Clutter sucks. And any differences we have are just fine with us; they probably help make us a better, more balanced couple.
VT: What's the sound track for your kitchen?
R & K: We like to cook to James Bond movie theme songs—that's our favorite! But we also choose music based on the meal: the sound track from (the film) Tortilla Soup is great for a Mexican menu; for casual summertime stuff, it's got to be rock and country. For romantic dinners, it's Billie Holiday.
VT: What makes a meal romantic?
R & K: First, set the stage: candles, nice glassware, and flowers can go a long way. Dress up once you've done the bulk of the cooking. Then let the food take over. Plan a sumptuous and decadent menu, including a dessert you can share. You want to stimulate the senses and make the night feel special. Just don't overdo it to the point where you have no appetite left for the real dessert!