This Valentine’s Day, we’re spotlighting a few of our favorite dynamic duos in the food community to learn how real-life couples celebrate the most romantic of holidays. See them all here!
Together, Hugh and Sara Forte make up the team behind Sprouted Kitchen, a natural foods cooking blog and the book of the same name. Sara is a creative cook with a passion for seasonal eating, whole grains, healthy fats and foods in their purest forms; Hugh is a food and lifestyle photographer who brings Sara’s creations to life. Here, we ask the couple all about their Valentine’s Day memories, favorite ways to celebrate, and finding the balance between work and play.
How did you celebrate your first Valentine’s Day together?
We were dating at the time. Hugh lived in San Diego, CA and I in San Luis Obispo, CA (5ish hours apart). He came up to stay with me, and I planned it. We went out to dinner — super cliche — and it’s the last time I’ll do that. The menu was set and the food was mediocre. It was good company, but the plans weren’t necessarily creative. That was nearly ten years ago.
Do you have any memorable meals, gestures or gifts from over the years that you can share?
We don’t usually do gifts — more gestures. I remember one year I set up a tent in the backyard for a faux camping experience. We didn’t last. The bed was too close to sleep outside. We went to a special cheese shop and made a picnic dinner of a baguette, cheese and charcuterie and wine. We are lucky that we don’t live in too cold a climate and can do that. Hugh always makes me hand drawn cards on plain computer paper. I love saving them because they are always the same size and shape with a different illustration and message. They’re collectibles.
Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? Do you stay home or eat out?
We don’t ever go out to dinner. I love trying new restaurants or returning to our favorites, but Valentine’s Day is not the night for this. We stay in and cook something different; maybe try something from a cookbook on the shelf. We share a bottle of wine, a special dessert and it’s just as special as going out.
What does your ideal Valentine’s Day meal look like?
I love vegetables, so ideally a big salad, some roasted vegetables and a fresh piece of fish. I like light dinners so there is room for a rich dessert. With ice cream on it, of course.
How will you be celebrating this year?
I’m pregnant, so meals have been a lot more simple and basic lately. I’m hoping Hugh cooks for me, or we bundle up and go for an early picnic. Just being together and sharing good food, no huge plans.
Tell us about how you work together in the kitchen. Who does what?
I cook and clean and Hugh does the photography, editing and back end of the website. I think we are both independent in the things we do and the other one doesn’t intercede at all. I know nothing about photography and he doesn’t cook, so we respect the other’s art and make it work. The part that gets tricky is styling, which is neither of our strong suits, so it gets more fussy when we are both trying to create a final shot of the dish. The process is easy — Hugh takes gorgeous and thoughtful photos — but we always get stuck on representing the final dish well and agreeing on it.
How do you balance the professional and personal aspects of your relationship?
It is helpful that we both have other jobs besides the work we do for Sprouted Kitchen. We have days we do other work, and days we set aside to work on the blog and cookbook. It’s a work relationship with a bit more arguing because we are so close. We give ourselves work hours with little breaks for sanity and do our best to make beautiful food and photos. When that work is done, we take a little space, and then carry on as normal couples would. Inevitably, still talking about work and Sprouted Kitchen. I don’t know that you can truly separate work and “real life” when your work is personal and done together. It’s just how it goes — it’s what you signed up for.
What’s your favorite dish the other person makes?
Hugh makes THE best scrambled eggs. I love eggs, so anytime I don’t want to cook for myself he scrambles me two eggs with a side of dressed greens and a warm brown rice tortilla. That is pretty standard. He likes my turkey meatballs, warm grilled sandwiches and lemon loaf for mornings with coffee. I don’t know if there is one thing specifically that wins him over besides a hamburger, and I don’t make those!
Photo Credit: James Moes