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A chef's guide to Valentine's Day

Romantic dinner setting for Valentine's DayPizza delivered to your door on the most romantic day of the year is so 2020. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to showcase your culinary skills and create a memorable dining experience for that special someone in your life. From setting the mood to crafting a thoughtful menu, Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide patisserie lecturer Paul Gillis recommends following these four simple steps to help execute a romantic and delicious Valentine’s Day meal. 

Step 1: Set the mood and create a romantic ambiance

Chef Paul says there are a few things you can do to really set the mood. This includes dimming the lights and using candles to create a soft glow. For background noise, choose a romantic playlist or share your Spotify to create a joint favourite music list. To add a touch of personality, set the table using your best dinnerware and glassware and include a handwritten note or menu. This will make the meal feel extra special.

Step 2: Plan a thoughtful menu

Chef Paul says it’s important to craft a menu that reflects both of your favourite cuisines and dishes. For the appetiser, he recommends a light and flavourful dish that stimulates the palate without being too heavy. A great example of this is kingfish ceviche with coconut, avocado, coriander, lime and chilli salsa, served with tortilla chips.

For the main, this is where you will really get to show off your culinary skills. Don’t forget to include your partner’s favourite ingredients. “Remember to prepare as much as you can beforehand to minimise time in the evening,” Chef Paul says. A great main meal example he gives is grilled steak fillet, olive oil mashed potatoes, sauteed asparagus, fried shallots and a red wine jus.

For dessert, it’s always a good idea to end on a sweet note with a decadent dessert. His recommendation is chocolate marquise with a berry fruit compote. Magnifique!

Step 3: Prepare ahead for smooth execution

In the kitchen, there are many things you can do to ensure a smooth execution. Breaking down the cooking tasks into manageable steps is key. “Prepare components that can be made in advance to streamline the process and ensure that all components of the meal are ready to be served simultaneously,” Chef Paul says. He also recommends using a kitchen timer or alarm to keep track of cooking times.

Step 4: Wine and dine, select the perfect wine!

Nothing screams romance like a perfectly paired wine with your meal. Choose a drop that compliments the flavours of your chosen dishes. If you’re unsure, ask for recommendations at your local wine shop. Chef Paul advises starting with some bubbles and always include water on the table.

With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a romantic and intimate Valentine's Day dining experience at home. Showcasing your culinary skills and personal touches will undoubtedly make this day memorable for both you and your special someone.

Are you looking to elevate your kitchen skills? Explore Le Cordon Bleu Australia's Patisserie programs.