Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest dining nights of the year. For guests, it presents the chance to woo and romance a special someone. For chefs and restaurants, it’s game time with nonstop two-tops and the seemingly never-ending sound of champagne corks popping in the dining room.
The Manhattan chefs we spoke with — Mike Price of The Clam in the West Village and chef Aaron Bludorn of Michelin-starred Cafe Boulud on the Upper East Side — say Valentine’s Day is all about striking a balance between offering guests the dishes and luxury they expect and staying true to their typical , a la carte offerings.
“Our energy in the back of the house translates to the front-of-house staff, which translates to the dining room,” Bludorn says. “Make sure you’re keeping that festive atmosphere in the kitchen and it’ll get to your guests.”
Below, Price and Bludorn walk through their step-by-step process of creating and selling Valentine’s Day menus, which all starts with asking the right questions. Here’s what to ask yourself and your team as V-Day approaches, along with advice for chefs planning a menu for the first time.