Cook This Restaurant-Worthy Dinner for Valentine’s Day

romantic dinner table

Credit: Whitney Cardozo, chef and owner of Chez Foushee

We asked a chef for the perfect recipe to cook at home with that special someone

Nothing says lockdown love like a good meal. For this Valentine’s Day, we asked a chef to share a restaurant-worthy meal for you and your special someone to cook in the comfort (and safety) of your own home. Before we get started, Whitney Cardozo —  chef of Chez Foushee in Richmond, Virginia — recommends thinking about some ground rules. “The saying, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ is an expression that applies to just about any group project,” Cardozo told us. “You don’t need to set up your kitchen like a brigade, but decide who will take the lead to make the night run smoothly.” For instance, who is better at chopping? Is someone an excellent salad maker? “Even having someone take on the cleaning makes it twice as fast to get the dish done as you work together,” Cardozo says. So, put on some smooth jazz, light the candles and have a romantic evening for two with these restaurant-worthy recipes.

The Menu:

Aperitif: Signature Cocktail, Hanky Panky
Appetizer: Baked Brie with Fresh Herbs
Entrée: Shrimp Scampi

#1 Aperitif: The Hanky Panky

Channel your inner mixologist and try the Hanky Panky. This cocktail originates from the Savoy Hotel’s bartender in the early 1900s and was created for the actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, who is credited with saying, “By Jove! That is the real Hanky Panky,” after he drank it. This recipe has been adapted by mixologist Jim Meehan and is easy to make.

2 oz. Tanqueray gin
1 ½ oz. Sweet vermouth
¼ oz.  Fernet Branca
Garnish: 1 orange twist

Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with orange twist.

#2 Appetizer: Baked Brie with Fresh Herbs

8-ounce wheel Brie (St. Andre or Camembert Cheese)
2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or Rosemary (really any herb you like)
2 tablespoons truffle oil
Crostini, cracker or vegetables

1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
2. Unwrap the cheese from the box.
3. Score the top in a crosshatch pattern with a knife. 
4. Place the pieces of garlic into the top of the cheese and sprinkle with fresh thyme.
5. Drizzle truffle oil on top.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup.
7. Place cheese onto the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or gooey.
8. Remove from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
9. Serve with crostini, crackers, or vegetables.

Suggestions: Someone can work on getting the cheese scored on the baking sheet, while your partner chops and slices the garlic and herbs.

#3 Entrée: Shrimp Scampi

A popular classic that is a great partner recipe.

3 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 garlic cloves, finely minced 
¼ cup dry white wine or broth 
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
¾ – 1 # large or extra-large shrimp, uncooked & shelled (about 5 for each portion)
1/4 cup chopped parsley 
Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon 
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cooked pasta or crusty bread 

For the pasta:
1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. You want your water to be salty like the sea. When it’s boiling, add the pasta (spaghetti, or linguini). Stir to make sure the pasta separates.
2. When water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. (al dente) 
3. Drain the pasta and sprinkle some olive oil on and toss a bit so it doesn’t get stuck together in the pot.

For the shrimp:
1. Using a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Sauté the garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) a couple of minutes. Don’t let garlic burn. 
3. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. 
4. Cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. You don’t want to cook them all the way, you will be cooking them again with the pasta and you don’t want them the consistency of tires!
5. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
6. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil, reducing the liquid a little
7. Add 1 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoons oil. 
8. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. 
9. Stir well (tongs are great for this) and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately. 

Serve with a French baguette or crusty bread. Fresh-shaved parmesan doesn’t hurt either!

Whitney Cardozo is a Chef-Owner of Chez Foushee, a French restaurant in Richmond, VA now delivering three-course fine dining experiences to customers’ doors. A multi-hyphenate chef with an MFA, M.Ed., Whitney is passionate about increasing the number of women in the industry and loves working with her all-female kitchen staff. Visit her website at