By Marla Camp
Photography by Jenna Noel
Three weeks after Andrew Dorsey met Jane Cronk, he invited her to dinner—at his parents’ house, sans parents.
It was their first official date; the first meal Andrew cooked for Jane and the first time Jane met Andrew’s parents (they vacated the premises shortly thereafter). Jane remembers the beautiful white roses Andrew gave her that night, and, of course, the meal. “It was really fattening,” she laughs. “There was an awful lot of butter.”
Andrew, 26, met Jane, 20, in May 2007 at Vespaio, the popular South Austin bistro where Andrew had just begun working as a cook. Jane was a hostess—back home in Austin for a break in her studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Luckily for Jane, Andrew is one of those professional cooks who loves cooking at home.
Andrew knew Jane was mostly vegetarian. He asked in advance what her favorite foods were. She said she really liked seafood and vegetables. So in preparation for their first dinner date, he went to the store, “to see what was fresh and happy.”
He recalls that shopping trip. “It was spring, so leeks came to mind. I made up the menu while shopping at Whole Foods.” When asked to expound, he explains, “As you cook, you learn combinations that go well together: basil and corn, for example. And sweet peppers and corn go well with seafood. Shrimp and grits are a good combo. Since I knew that Jane was a vegetarian, I wanted to have more fun with the vegetable ingredients for her meal.”
Andrew conjured up a menu featuring sea scallops with caramelized leeks, corn, sweet red peppers and arugula. He also bought fresh, seasonal berries and yellow melon for a simple dessert and two bottles of wine—a prosecco and a dessert wine. And the roses. “I went a little overboard with everything,” he grins.
In the kitchen that evening, while Andrew caramelized the leeks, Jane shucked the corn, julienned the red pepper and picked through the arugula. “That night I had the prettiest prep cook in Austin,” says Andrew.
This night, Edible Austin has asked Andrew and Jane to recreate the meal they made together a year ago. Click here for the Recipe , with some cooking annotations from Andrew, who cooks on the fly, not from recipes.
How does this version compare to their first-date meal from almost a year ago? Jane says “Better...lighter. A little more lady-friendly [i.e., less buttery].” Andrew smiles and says, “Yes, this is what I was going for.”
This spring, Jane is back at school in New York City. By May, Andrew will have joined her in her tiny Brooklyn apartment, where she still keeps the dried white roses tucked away in her freezer as a reminder of their first dinner date.