aphrodite cooks photo


Aphrodite Cooks helps take the pressure off dating by keeping singles busy cooking meals as they mingle.


When it comes to food I’ve always been more of a taste master than culinary whiz, willing to try the delicacies in front of me, but not always keen to find out what went into the preparation. But lately as I have become more creative with a frying pan and mixing bowl, I’ve started to wonder what other talents I have in the kitchen.

Recently, I took a singles cooking class to explore my culinary curiosity. The Singles Supper Club was offered by Aphrodite Cooks, a new catering company, started by two business-savvy women — one with a penchant for cooking, the other a love of event planning — who both had one thing in common: an association with NHL goal tender Ed Belfour. Vanessa Yeung was his private chef and Stephanie Summerhill his personal assistant. But when Belfour was traded to Florida, Yeung decided it was time to act on an idea she had been thinking about since her days at Stratford Chefs School.

“A friend of mine from school (Angie McRae who now co-hosts This Food, That Wine on the FoodNetwork) used to say she always thought singles cooking classes would be a great idea,” says Yeung.

The idea stuck with Yeung, who then approached Summerhill and from there the first Aphrodite singles cooking class came to be at the Mengrai Thai by Sasi at 412 Richmond St. E.

As 10 women and nine men (one guy was a no show), who ranged in age from mid-20s to late-40s, stood armed with starched aprons and non-alcoholic beverages (no liquor allowed while cooking), conversations buzzed about people’s favourite foods and culinary abilities, varying from novice to pro.

From there we broke off into smaller groups and headed to the kitchen to tackle different parts of the evening’s menu, including herb gnocchi, roast leg of lamb with sautéed swiss chard, and apple and dried cranberry strudel.

“For the menu, I like to see what’s in season and then stick within a cuisine. Tonight’s menu is very French bistro, but every menu (for each class) will be different,” says Yeung, adding they plan to have at least one singles class a month.

First, we scoured the kitchen to find our ingredients and cooking utensils. Then as we sliced, diced and flirted with our fellow chefs, Yeung cut in periodically to show the group some off-the-recipe tips on how to tie a roast leg of lamb and roll gnocchi.

“I think an event like this takes away the stress of dating because you always have a task to do,” says Summerhill.

Mingling was highly encouraged, so too was learning what other stations were making. Think Nigella Lawson sex appeal meets the buzz of Hell’s Kitchen, minus the patronizing and yelling of chef Gordon Ramsay.

Finally, with the strudel baked and the lamb cooked, we set down our cutting knives, picked up our forks and let the warmth from the kitchen penetrate a few flirtatious conversations (some which didn’t end that evening) over the meal we’d just prepared.

For more on Aphrodite Cooks, including their couples and same-sex singles cooking classes, visit www.aphroditecooks.com.