Cook­ing up a happy mar­riage

Celebrity chef and mu­si­cian Roger Mook­ing and wife Les­lie share their story

Richmond Hill Post - - How They Met - By Christina Gon­za­les

De­cide to be there and you will stay there.”

In a big city such as Toronto, it’s hard to find some­one who feels like home. Luck­ily for Roger Mook­ing, when his now-wife Les­lie strolled into Bar­rio restau­rant, where Mook­ing had his first gig as a head chef, all the pair talked about was home. Af­ter the din­ner rush, the Ed­mon­ton na­tives quickly bonded over their old city, and it’s been “Ed­mon­ton nos­tal­gia” ever since. Af­ter tak­ing Les­lie on last-minute road trips to dif­fer­ent cities to eat dur­ing their courtship, an epic elope­ment atop a moun­tain in Cas­tara Tobago sealed the deal.

Fast-for­ward to the present. Roger and Les­lie now jug­gle a bois­ter­ous house­hold in Toronto with four kids, two dogs, lots of singing and lots of cook­ing. Here, Roger tells us how it all hap­pened: When was your first date? This was in 2005. One of the servers at Bar­rio was an ac­tor, and he was putting on a one-man show. We went to the show and then walked around the St. Lawrence Mar­ket area be­fore stop­ping at a lounge to chat. It was very old-school and didn’t in­clude the In­ter­net or any apps. De­scribe your courtship. We liked tak­ing last-minute road trips on a whim and ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent cities. Most mem­o­rable was a trip to San Fran­cisco when we were preg­nant with our first daugh­ter. It was five days of eat­ing, Al­ca­traz, seal watch­ing, chow­der-eat­ing, shop­ping and more eat­ing. This trip is likely one of the rea­sons that San Fran­cisco is one of my favourite cities in the world.

Tell us about the pro­posal. Some things are sa­cred. This is one of them.

What are your lives like now? I am a chef, record­ing artist and TV per­son­al­ity, and that’s how we pay the bills around here. Les­lie han­dles most of my pro­fes­sional wardrobe de­mands (pre-kids she was a fash­ion pro­ducer and wardrobe stylist for many years), and she is pos­si­bly the best mother among earth­lings. We em­brace change be­cause, well, that is the nat­u­ral or­der of things. So a lot has changed and yet noth­ing has changed. Where were you mar­ried? We were mar­ried in Cas­tara Tobago in the finest elope­ment in his­tory. We looked out on the ocean on the edge of a moun­tain­top while hov­er­ing over a fish­ing vil­lage be­low. It was a very hot day, and as soon as the cer­e­mony was over, we changed into shorts and T-shirts. We spent the week on that moun­tain­top and ven­tured around Tobago in our rental car vis­it­ing many of my old child­hood stomp­ing grounds. Af­ter Tobago, we met my en­tire fam­ily in Trinidad for a week-long fam­ily re­union. Ev­ery night was a re­union/wed­ding party. Per­fec­tion! When we went to visit our par­ents in Ed­mon­ton months later, they con­spired and threw us a sur­prise party to cel­e­brate the wed­ding again. Ev­ery­one was a part of our wed­ding in a very un­usual way, and the fes­tiv­i­ties went on for a year. Do you have any ad­vice on re­la­tion­ships? I’m no ex­pert on re­la­tion­ships, but it doesn’t hurt to cook and sing for one an­other whether you can cook and sing or not. Other things I’ve learned are: laugh as though no one can hear you, buy the most mem­o­rable jew­ellery your money can buy and buy flow­ers for no rea­son and, in the words of my fa­ther, “Re­la­tion­ships are a de­ci­sion.” De­cide to be there and you will stay there.

Roger Mook­ing and his wife Les­lie met at an east end restau­rant

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