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Celebrity Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s Top Tips for an Unforgettable Valentine’s Dinner

For some of us, having your assistant book a last-minute table at the latest “it” restaurant may seem like a perfectly acceptable Valentine’s Day date. However, if you fall into this category, you may need to think bigger for a date on February 14. Valentine’s Day is more about the thought and preparation you put into a date than the money you spend, so we suggest doing a little research before calling your assistant.

And who knows more about romance – and food – than an Italian chef? Celebrity Chef Giorgio Rapicivoli won Chopped at age 26 and has multiple James Beard nominations to his name. He now helms the kitchens at Eating House and Luca Osteria in Miami and knows a thing or two about setting the scene for a successful date night. Whether you are planning to show off your culinary skills and cook a romantic dinner for your date or score a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town, keep reading for Chef Rapicivoli’s tips for planning the perfect Valentine’s Day.

1) Be prepared

Waking up on the morning of February 14 and trying to piece together an impressive homemade meal isn’t gonna cut it. A couple of days prior, take the time to hit the grocery store and a couple of gourmet markets, then put together a meal that shows effort and preparation. Rapicivoli says a simple yet delicious risotto with Parmigiano, butter, and black winter truffles will leave a lasting impression.

2) Focus on the experience

If cooking is one of the few areas in which you don’t excel, perhaps planning a dinner out would be a better way to go. Rapicivoli advises that you should look for restaurants that offer more than just food on the table – and he says you can’t go wrong with omakase. “You can discover saké and a new culture together, and you won’t be too full if you want to continue the date,” he adds. Which brings us to his next tip… 

3) Don’t overindulge

Especially if this is a first date, make sure not to eat too much. Nobody feels sexy with a belly full of food! While pasta like Rapicivoli’s may make you want to devour the entire order, leave some leftovers. That way, you will also have something to eat for lunch tomorrow. 

4) Allow your wine to breathe

Not only does wine help take the edge off when we are nervous about a first date, but it also makes a fabulous pairing with a Valentine’s Day dinner. However, don’t open the bottle so quickly that you don’t give it time to breathe. Rapicivoli reminds us that opening up the bottle of wine and allowing it a bit of time to open up will really let the characteristics come through. Ultimately, he says, this will make the wine taste much better as well.

Seeking’s resident dating expert Emma Hathorn had a few tips of her own, noting that your preparation and planning are far more important than the price or perceived level of luxury. 

“When you put time and care into the preparation and planning for a date night, it shows. That feeling of being put first, and of being cared for, is what your date will take home with them,” says Hathorn.

“That’s what luxury really is at its heart; the sense of being valued, and of being considered. It’s not always about the cost of things, it’s also about the sentiment behind those things.”

If you’re still looking for a Valentine’s Day date, Seeking is here to help. Just log in to your Seeking account or create a profile today! And for more dating advice, check out the rest of the Seeking blog.