How to Cook with Your Partner (and Preserve Your Relationship)

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Cooking With My Partner

My partner and I love to cook together. Neither of us have any formal culinary training but we really enjoy preparing delicious food and we both love the challenge and satisfaction of trying new recipes and learning new culinary techniques. After many years of being together, one of our favourite date nights is cooking a delicious dinner at home and watching a movie in our living room.

Though we have long enjoyed collaborative harmony in the kitchen, I must confess that such kitchen nirvana was not always the case—especially when we began embarking upon new, more intense and challenging culinary projects. The first raviolis were not happy ones. And there was more rice on the kitchen floor than there was in all the cabbage rolls combined (I told you we should have cut the spines out of those cabbage leaves!). Our different styles quickly became evident: one of us likes to stick to the recipe on the first go, the other likes to improvise. Our visions, even our ways of chopping an onion, varied. “Creative differences” we called them–each secretly believing our way to be superior.

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The Secret to Kitchen Nirvana:
The Kitchen Contract

It seems that the old adage, “Too many cooks spoil the broth” has a lot of truth in it. At least it was true for us. With all those knives and other sharp kitchen gadgets around, it seems a prudent thing to ensure harmony in the kitchen. Happily, we came upon a solution early on. It was simple but brilliant: like any well-run kitchen, we needed a hierarchy. Our kitchen roles are now contractually delineated as follows:

“Whosoever initiates a culinary project shall hereby be designated the Chef (a.k.a. “The Kitchen God”) for the duration of said culinary project.

Upon the Chef being so designated, the other party shall forthwith become the Sous-Chef (a.k.a. “The Kitchen Slave”) and shall voluntarily and happily relinquish all authority – real or imagined – to the Chef.

It is hereby understood by both parties that the Chef shall reign supreme, maintaining all technical, procedural, and creative control over said culinary project.

The Chef may or may not choose to seek the opinion of the Sous-Chef. Furthermore, it is hereby understood by both parties that the Chef may totally disregard any such opinion, solicited or unsolicited, with no repercussions whatsoever.

The Sous-Chef shall happily and explicitly follow any and all of the Chef’s instructions; and it shall go without saying that, as the Chef’s creative culinary masterpiece unfolds, the Sous-Chef shall cheerfully and meticulously clean up after the Chef.”

We’ve enjoyed utter harmony in the kitchen since we both signed the contract. Surprisingly, we find that we each enjoy both roles equally.

16 thoughts on “How to Cook with Your Partner (and Preserve Your Relationship)

  1. It looks and sounds Great Jeannie…I think I fall into the Sous Chef category! :) Have a great new week my friend.

  2. Hello Jeannie! What a lovely and enlightening post! I laughed as I remembered the first few years of ‘culinary experiments’ with my husband…it really was far from harmonious, hahaha :))) I like your idea of kitchen roles – so creative and brilliant. Wishing you and your partner a lovely week ahead!

    • Hello, Takami! Thanks so much for your comment. I think that couples cooking together can certainly be a test of the strength of the relationship! I can certainly relate to your comment about less than harmonious times in the kitchen. One of our very first culinary projects together was canning jars of antipasto for Christmas gifts. We grossly underestimated the time it would take to do the project and we ended up staying up way too late to finish the project. With each passing hour we got more and more uncharacteristically snippy with each other. Luckily, we survived that fiasco. Over time, with each new culinary project, we slowly became more organized. But it wasn’t until we both realized that we needed a leader that things started to get really collaborative, harmonious and very fun. As I mentioned in the post, I think it surprised both of us a little to discover that we both truly enjoy both roles—it’s fun to be the leader when it’s your “baby”, but when it’s the other person’s project, we both find it equally satisfying to be part of a team working towards a common goal. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Have a happy week! :))

  3. This is a great post, Jeannie! Love the humor, and honesty, :) I’m no cook, so I let my husband do all of it — that’s the way we keep harmony in the kitchen, LOL. But I can tell that you and your partner take your cooking very seriously, and it appears that you eat very healthy as well! And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a glass of red wine! So glad to have you back in the blogosphere! :)

    • Hi Debra! We certainly do enjoy preparing, reading about and cooking food. Our taste runs towards simple, rustic food made from excellent ingredients. And you are so right: you can never go wrong with a glass of wine to sip on as you cook! Thanks so much for your comment. Have a great week ahead! :)))

  4. OMG! What a hilarious story! A question: who is the Chef more often than the other? LOL And one thing to note: whoever did the knife action, I am jealous! Perfectly diced celery!

    …and I will need to remember this when my Little Cake Boss tells me I’m baking her birthday cake improperly. Great idea, Jeannie!

    • Thanks, Koji! I’d say that generally we split the roles pretty close to equal. At first, I thought I might not like being the sous-chef, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I quite enjoy playing the worker bee role too! Thanks for your compliments on my knife skills—I’ve been getting better with each passing year. And, yes, it might be handy to have a copy of this contract around when you are baking for your Little Cake Boss! :))))

  5. Wonderful pics as usual. You are lucky to have this great hobby with your husband. Mine helps also form time to time ( mostly with BBQ) and does the dishes- at last ! :-)

  6. I also like the idea of chef roles in the kitchen & I definitely am more comfortable in the sous role, especially with the main course, but I would take the Chef hat for the dessert portion.
    Have a wonderful new week Jeannie~

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