Love in the Kitchen at Healdsburg’s Spoonbar
Healdsburg’s Spoonbar is cooking up something sweet with its new chefs.
It was fate when Patrick and Casey Van Voorhis were assigned as classroom station partners while students at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Today, the two—married since last May—share an 850-square-foot kitchen at Spoonbar in Healdsburg’s h2hotel. They also share the same title: co-executive chef. They often work the same schedule and take on the same responsibility of crafting a modern American-fare menu that dances from ahi ceviche—scooped with light-as-air fried black rice chips—to handmade corn ravioli accompanied by lobster and topped with a brown butter puree.
“I wasn’t initially looking for a relationship, so Patrick claims it took some work on his end,” says Casey. “But he’s charming, and I realized after a short time that I could see myself with him.”
Since working together at San Francisco’s Cotogna, the duo has created a symbiotic relationship, dividing their work to play off each other’s strengths. Patrick is more vocal and likes commanding busy weekend-night service, while Casey embraces what she calls her “desire to please people,” handling catering and guest relations. Where Patrick loves finding balance amid bold flavors, Casey boasts a more delicate palate and loves working on subtle vegetable dishes and herb- or spice-driven sauces.
Together, they crafted Spoonbar’s popular crispy octopus appetizer. Patrick came up with the dramatic idea of plating the dish on tableside grills.
“It’s definitely been a learning curve,” says Casey. “But we’re really good about talking through disagreements. We’re both open to suggestions, but he’ll play the good sport and tell anybody that I’m always right.”
Not bad for a couple whose relationship started with a little white lie.
“Patrick is 26, and I am 27,” says Casey. “He led me to believe we were the same age up to about the second year of our relationship. It’s no issue, just false witness.”
Now, the couple can be seen walking hand-in-hand down the Healdsburg sidewalks. And they stick to the rule that Casey credits with keeping them in harmony.
“We really try to limit how much we talk about work when we’re home,” she says. “We enjoy our time off together when it comes.”
Spoonbar, 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, (707) 433-7222, spoonbar.com.