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Love and Pasta

In 2015 Tomato Pie Cafe of Lititz graciously took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunity to host a Valentine's Day Dinner at their restaurant as the pop-up chef.


My friends booked tables to support me but also a few strangers to my surprise, awe, and slight terror. It was a transformative moment and it was a success. I had no fear then. I was naive and bold and overly confident which enabled me to be a head chef in a restaurant kitchen--something I had never done before. It also taught me some valuable lessons....many. I don't think I made any money. I know for sure that the restaurant did not. But I walked away with an experience I would never trade.


I learned that crafting an experience for people means more to me than anything else. I learned that outrageous hospitality is what drives me. That atmosphere and ambience are 60% of what makes a night successful, then food. I learned that cooking in a restaurant may not be what I want to do but that celebrating with food is something I wanted to give my life to.


That first meal at Tomato Pie Cafe was important to me not just because it was a defining experience in my carer but also because Valentine's Day is very special to me and my family. It has become my absolute favorite holiday because growing up it was a big deal in our house. It's my dad's birthday. He's Italian and as the story goes, he was almost named Valentino instead of Steven. After exchanging valentines at school in those homemade decorated shoeboxes that made the day so fun, we'd anxiously wait for my dad to get home. Without fail, he'd present us with candy and a rose and then we'd present him with gifts and have a family party where 99% of the time we'd eat Italian food--pasta and red gravy as my dad says (it's not worth arguing about).


When I was older, I started a tradition of delivering homemade valentine treats to my single friends. Over the years, I expanded it to anyone and adopted a lottery system where people would enter to be the recipient of Valentine's Day surprises. No one knew if they won until I showed up and heart bombed their front door. One particular delivery I threw inside the mailbox and zipped away only to receive a text from the recipient to come back to the house because she "had a surprise". And what a surprise it was! I walked into her home to behold her cradling a 30 minute old baby in her arms. A Valentine's Baby?! Could this day get any better?

I have to admit, I was elated when phrase the "Galentine's Day" was coined. My sister recently schooled me on who invented the phrase, so I feel like I need to give proper credit here. If you're a Parks and Rec fan, you most likely are screaming at the computer right now. Leslie Knope of the show Parks and Recreation coined the phrase and set the date for February 13th. (fact check) So....cheers to you Leslie, and thank you because... I LOVE IT! The pink! The Red! The schmaltz! I embrace the over-the-top, cheese coated, superfluous holiday because it echoes what I believe Bebop's Supper Club is all is reason enough to celebrate. A holiday about love? Yes please!

Italian food, opera, hearts galore, roses, chocolate, pasta, Lady and the Tramp. For me, these all are synonymous with the day and as I carry out the tradition with my own kids, I can only hope they look forward to surprise singing telegrams during school, heart-bombed front yards, and dining room tables decked out in red as much as I do. But mostly because growing up, it was day filled with love. There are so many who don't feel love, I think that's why I deliver valentines on a day that can be so hard for people.


So, in honor of this most special holiday I hope you celebrate. Buy a bag of conversation hearts and ransom note a love letter to your friends, your mom, your sister, your child, your lover. Let them know how much you celebrate them in your life and...drink a glass of champagne for yourself.


Katie at Bebop's Supper Club

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