Nursing a passionate relationship with food is hard enough, but these four couples tell Don Mendoza how they nurture love in the highly demanding restaurant business
Four couples share how they stay in love and succeed in the highly demanding restaurant business
I’ve always been in awe of the long hours chefs and those who make a living in the competitive world of restaurants put in—and often sympathetic to what seems like an impossible setting for romance, let alone true love, to flourish. So it’s inspiring, to say the least, to find four couples who not only prove that it can happen, but also affirm what celebrated home cook, author and self-described “natural ham” Julia Child famously believed—that people who love to eat are the best people. I also like to think that a good marriage, like a good dish, is something you make, not something you copy. It’s not a recipe you’d want to compromise with artificial flavours and colours—no matter how much you like Doritos or vanillin (or playing dress-up).
More importantly, it’s a work in progress and often calls for a generous dose of resilience. And in the case of chef Sam Aisbett’s wife, Annette, who takes care of the administrative side of the business that is Whitegrass, it’s best handled with a sprightly sense of humour. “I had worked in a couple of boutique hotels when we lived in London for a while and then, when we moved to Sydney, I started working in the cafe and coffee-roasting industry,” she says of her recent history in the food and beverage business. That led to the question of how she ended up in her current role. “I was forced into it by marriage,” she quips—or at least we hope. For most, though, the boon is in sharing a vested interest in the industry—and this is particularly true of Iggy’s Ignatius Chan and his wife, Janice. “We’ve known each other for 32 years and we’ve worked together since we co-founded Iggy’s in 2004,” she shares.
Still, I like to believe that at some point, this genuine love for good food matures to become a defining ingredient, like the pathos of some of the greatest love stories—as inseparable as cheese and honey.