VALENTINE'S IS FOR LOVERS.... AND LOVERS OF FOOD | By Chef Michael Finizia / by Eric Monteiro

Every year on Valentine’s Day I have fond memories of past years; restaurants filled with two-top tables and dining rooms packed with couples, all madly in love!

The problem is that chefs rarely get time off on Valentine’s day. Most reasonable, hard-working chefs are hands-on for one of the busiest days of the year. In the rarest of circumstances, however, a chef hears that he/she has the 14th off, and it's like winning the lottery!  In my opinion, the last place to be on Valentine’s day is out on the town.  Hospitality industry insiders like myself won't fall victim to the poor service, over inflated prices and sub-par quality at an over-strained food and beverage outlet on Valentine’s day. As a true romantic, I opt for the ultimate gift: cooking from the heart. 

Chef Michael Finizia

Now, Valentines can't just be another chicken dinner after the mundane traffic commute. Valentine's celebrations need the touch of "love,” something that says you and your beloved are positively one together, and my favorite romantic dinner is a homemade fondue dinner for two… with the added touch of feeding each other (a sure way to get the mood on "fire" per se.)

An alpine cheese fondue is my preferred way to the heart.  It offers gentle warmth with light tones of kirsch, balancing the creaminess of some of my favorite cheeses.  Dunking a piece of bread into that molten cheese is oh so satisfying. Next, we go directly to the "meat and potatoes," no pun intended. Reach for some marinated cubes of beef, tender shrimp, garden vegetables and an array of potatoes. Don’t forget the zesty sauces, it’s practically a sin to have a cheese fondue without them. [ Click here for Michael's favorite recipe for cheese fondue. ]

Finally, the part I enjoy most, the CHOCOLATE FONDUE, enter stage right!  You can't have romance and fondue in the same sentence unless chocolate is part of the show.  Just like romance itself, chocolate fondue comes in many flavors.  With so many choices, I prefer the easy way out, have them all!  White chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate - No sense in skimping, this desert is for lovers!  The contrast of delicate fruits coated in decadent chocolate indulgence stirs the deepest cravings.  [ Click here for Chef Michael's chocolate fondue recipe ]

Fondue is so much more than the meal of the evening, it's a primer to kick start fire in the heart.