Love at First Bite
February 14, 2020
Love is in the air in Paso Wine Country! Celebrate Valentine’s Day with us and learn about our food (& wine) loving restaurant couples. Read about the perks of both partners working together, their challenges, romance, and their favorite meal to cook for their sweetie.
Kathleen & Jeff
How and when did you meet? We met in 2009, at Vinoteca Wine Bar (where what is now, LaCosecha) Jeff was the Chef & General Manager of Vinoteca. Kathleen’s Best Friend, Karen was one of the servers at Vinoteca, and Kathleen would come in on Tuesday nights to have a drink & visit with her friend. Tuesday nights were pretty dead in downtown Paso, in 2009; a little different then they are now. After a few weeks of this routine, we got acquainted and started becoming friendly & flirtatious with each other. Jeff had a catering event coming up that he needed a server to help him with, at what was Edward Sellars Winery (now it’s J Dusi Wines). Karen wasn’t available, but her friend Kathleen could help. Jeff offered to pay Kathleen for helping him at the catering event, by giving her some cash and buying her a ticket to the Paso Pinot & Paella Festival, the following weekend. Kathleen happily accepted the offer, which lead to more flirting and our first date, the next weekend. Side Note; Our first kiss, happened to be in the doorway of Vinoteca, so now, every time we walk into LaCosecha, we share another kiss.
What did you eat on your first date? Our first date was the “Paso Pinot & Paella Festival” in 2009. Jeff, being a Chef and very passionate about good food & fine cuisine, wanted to impress this beautiful girl and take her to a fun food & wine festival. Kathleen, being a single mom of two young girls (8 & 10 at the time) and not really brought up in the “foodie culture”, was excited to go on the date, but was nervous because there were a lot of foods she didn’t like. We got our first sample of Paella, and Kathleen told Jeff that she doesn’t eat chicken off the bone, she doesn’t like shrimp with tails, and doesn’t think she’d like clams or mussels. After that, Jeff would go get the different Paella samples and would remove the bones from the chicken, take the tails off the shrimp and eat the clams & mussels himself. He would give Kathleen a taste of the rice and see if she liked it. She would usually smile and say “that’s good” but really, she didn’t like any of them. But she loved the wine and she loved that this cute boy, was going out of his way to try and help her have fun at her first “food festival”. P.S. Her pallet has greatly evolved since that first date, and she has become much more adventurous and willing to try new things.
What is the best thing about working together? We worked very hard to develop our restaurant concept; getting to work together to come up with the idea of what we wanted to do, going through the ups & downs during the build-out, and finally seeing it completed was an amazing thing to share with each other. We spend a lot of time together, learning from each other, creating goals and seeing them through together; that is a great part of working together.
What is the most challenging? Jeff has spent almost 30 years in the restaurant business, and for Kathleen, this is really her first full time “job” in the restaurant business. We encountered a few challenges within our first 6 months of opening. We had different ways of looking at things and communicating with each other, with love & respect was a little hard at times. Not letting the stress get to us was important, but we quickly overcame those challenges. These days, the most challenging part of working together is the hours we both put in. Often times our home life gets put on the back burner, while our business life is at a rolling boil (all the puns, intended 🙂 ).
Living and working in Paso Robles Wine Country appears very romantic and idyllic… what is your most romantic experience in Paso? Without a doubt, our most romantic experience in Paso was getting married at Cass Winery on 10/12/13. The preparations leading up to our wedding & picking the site were romantic, the day of our wedding was off the charts romantic and every day since has been a dream for us; getting to live & work in Paso Robles Wine Country. From early on, we decided that we wanted to open the restaurant 6 days a week, so we decided to close on Wednesdays. Most weeks we get to have “Wednesday Night-Date Night” which is very romantic, and rare, for a hard-working restaurant couple.
What’s the most romantic thing that’s happened in your restaurant? Every day we seem to have customers come in on their first date. It has been a joy for us, to see some of those first dates turn into relationships, with the couples coming back in regularly.
What’s your favorite meal to make for your sweetie? Paella has a special place in our hearts. Jeff’s multi-award winning “Paso Paella” has become a favorite dish for both of us, over the years. As much as we enjoy it with Pinot Noir, and both of us consider Pinot Noir to be our favorite varietal; our favorite pairing with our paella is the Albarino & the Garnacha from Diablo Paso, as we both love our dear friend, Enrique Torres’ Wines. At home, our favorite meal to cook & enjoy together is Oven Roasted Wild Salmon, with Local Olive Oil & Herb Butter, served with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Creamy Mashed Potatoes; in which case we love opening a bottle of Asuncion Ridge Pinot Noir, made by another dear friend, Phillip Krummel.
Maggie & Eric
How and when did you meet? In the fall of 2009, we were both working at JUSTIN Winery. Maggie was in the tasting room in her short shorts, and Eric in the restaurant trying to concoct a killer opening line.
What did you eat on your first date? Champagne!
What is the best thing about working together? Being able to problem-solve together, run ideas by someone, and have a full appreciation of how hard the other person works.
What is the most challenging? Figuring out how to be professional at work with the person who didn’t do their breakfast dishes at home, and going home with the person with whom you disagreed in a meeting.
Living and working in Paso Robles Wine Country appears very romantic and idyllic… what is your most romantic experience in Paso? It sure is! Our lives are non-stop but when Eric proposed to Maggie in our own home on top of a hill overlooking vineyards and giant oaks, life stopped for a minute and we thanked our lucky stars to be living this nutty life together. We feel so fortunate to be part of this community and to live in a place where people vacation!
What’s the most romantic thing that’s happened in your restaurant? A couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with us and it made the entire Hatch team swoon. Young love is awesome but there’s something really, really special about a couple who has spent literally decades together and still has stuff to talk about over dinner. Their secret? Rolling with the punches, they said.
What’s your favorite meal to you make for your sweetie? With two kids and a restaurant we have very limited opportunities to have relaxing meals together, so literally any time we get to dine al fresco is a total win. Add Paso wine to the mix and we are the happiest people alive. Whether it’s a simple BBQ in our backyard, lunch on the patio at BL Brasserie, or looking at vineyards at Cass Winery… we’re in our element when we’re together outside in beautiful Paso Robles with a glass of rosé.
Courtney & Julien
How and when did you meet? We met while opening a trendy restaurant in West Hollywood in 2008. Julien was a pastry Chef and I was a server. I often made excuses to go to the kitchen to see the cute “Frenchie” and he always offered me tasty treats he was making… Gelato specifically 😉
What did you eat on your first date? We went to a divey sports bar and ate chicken wings and nachos. The Carolina Panthers were playing… It was fun, casual, and just the two of us.
What is the best thing about working together? Actually getting to see each other! Haha, it’s fun, it reminds me of when we first met. On the weekends when I am at the restaurant I always catch him checking me out when he thinks I’m not looking. We are truly proud of our business and it feels surreal to experience our dreams coming true together. We balance each other.
What is the most challenging? Having 2 children ages 1 and 3 and starting/running a full-time business. Childcare isn’t always the easiest but we try and make it work. Any random day you might see 2 little munchkins running around the kitchen snacking on rustic bread or playing ball in the back hallway. Also finding balance in work and home life.
Living and working in Paso Robles Wine Country appears very romantic and idyllic… what is your most romantic experience in Paso? Just spending the day at the beach with our kids. Family time is precious to us. The kids are only little for so long. So yes a day at the beach, eating fresh fish by the pier, coming home after a long day, Chinese/Thai/sushi-takeout, and we’re in bed by 8pm! Haha, that’s the dream right there! And maybe binging on a Netflix show.
What’s the most romantic thing that’s happened in your restaurant? When Julien cooks me something without me asking! Sounds silly but I rarely eat at work. I bring my own food most of the time.
What’s your favorite meal to you make for your sweetie? One of my favorite dishes Julien makes is lobster pasta with lots of lemon, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. He would probably say that he loves my whole roasted chicken smothered in truffle butter. It’s simple yet devouring. We’d pair either dish with 2014 “For Her” by L’Aventure because it’s a remarkable wine that should be drunk with the one you love. It’s rich, full-bodied, and all-around sexy!