It has been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. From bite-size sliders to corn soup shooters Elaina Vazquez, owner and executive chef of Boutique Bites, has captured many a heart with her tiny delights. We were over the moon to hear that her long time love Anthony Martin, also a chef, recently “put a ring on it” and now the two are cooking up a brilliant Chicago wedding. We chatted with Ms. Vazquez to hunt down her secret ingredient for love. It is clear these two chefs are #meant2beChicago in and out of the kitchen.

Photo Courtesy of Boutique Bites

Q. When did you and Anthony put the recipe for love in motion?

A. Anthony and I met in Las Vegas about 5 years ago, but didn’t begin dating until 2 years later. He was one of the chefs at Joel Robuchon and I moved there to work at the restaurant. We met on my first day but didn’t become friends until about 3 months later (he’s very serious in the kitchen). Once we became friends though, it was like we had known each other for years. About a year later, I started Boutique Bites in Las Vegas but wanted to move back to Chicago. We met for Sangria one afternoon and he told me that he was just offered a position with Lettuce Entertain You at TRU restaurant (which is ironic because I had worked there before moving to Vegas). I told him that I also planned on moving back to Chicago to get my business off the ground there. And with a clink of our glasses, the plan was hatched…we would move to Chicago at the end of the summer (and yes, we were still just friends at this point). I left Vegas about a month before Anthony, so he helped me move out of my apartment and even kept some stuff for me at his place that I couldn’t fit in my car, which he would bring with him to Chicago when he moved. Once in Chicago I helped him look for an apartment, buy furniture, and get acquainted with my city. We were still just friends though for another year. I don’t even know how we started dating. At some point it just seemed very natural; we spent so much time together. All of our friends said it was bound to happen, and on a sunny day in August (on the weekend of the air and water show…my favorite Chicago event!) we decided to take the next step. We dated for a little over 3 years when he proposed.

Photo Courtesy of Boutique Bites

Q. Just how did Anthony cook up the engagement?

A. Anthony proposed in a very sweet way, which I’m not surprised by because he’s always been very thoughtful throughout our relationship. He proposed after work one Saturday night. Since he’s a chef, that meant after midnight, so it was technically Sunday. While I sensed that a proposal was coming, I definitely didn’t think it would be that night. I love that I was completely surprised! We had planned to decorate our Christmas tree that night after he got home from work. Every year on the day that we decorate the tree he always gives me a small gift (usually an ornament or something like that). So when we were done decorating (at this point it’s after 1am!), I was getting pretty sleepy and laid down on the couch. Sensing this, he asked me if I wanted my “decorating the tree gift”. Of course I said yes, because I love gifts. He went over to the television and began setting something up. More intrigued, I sat up on the couch to get a better look at what he was doing. He told me he had made me a video. “A video…why?” I asked him (you can tell how romantic I am). He started the video and it was the sweetest 13 minutes ever. He had made a video of photos of our time together as a couple. It chronicled everything…birthdays, holidays, work accomplishments, time with families, friends, etc. It was set to music and he also created a story line to go along with it. It was so funny and clever and cute, we were both laughing the whole time. At the end of the video a photo of a Tiffany’s box hanging from a Christmas tree came on the screen. At this point I definitely knew! Anthony walked over to our tree where he had sneakily hung the box after we were done decorating…and that’s when I saw it…the little blue box. Now I was really thrilled. He came over to the couch where I was sitting, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Anthony is a very private person so I loved that he proposed in our home, just the two of us in our pajamas. It was perfect!

{Be U Side Note: We can’t lie a Be U tear or two was shed hearing this lovely proposal}

Photo Courtesy of Boutique Bites

Q. What are you both envisioning for the big day?

A. Our main priority is to keep the wedding SMALL. I’ve never been the girl who dreamed of a 250+ person wedding. And if it were up to Anthony we would go to a beach somewhere with 10 people, but I want to stay in Chicago. We will have fewer than 100 guests, though, which is still intimate. We’re getting married this July at TRU. Anthony is the chef there and it’s still one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

Q. Is it safe to assume this will be a food driven wedding? What do you both plan on cooking up for your guests?

A. Yes, ours will definitely be a food driven wedding! My company is obviously known for our ‘bites’ so I’ll be doing the food for the cocktail hour, which will have lots of minis! Anthony’s team will handle the seated dinner menu which will likely be 4 courses. I can’t wait to see it all come together. I know it will be beautiful…and delicious!

 Photo Courtesy of Boutique Bites

Q. For other couples out there, what food trends do you see moving into Spring/Summer? Do you have catering advice for couples?

I actually see a return to more formality. Cocktail party receptions with all passed hors d’oeuvres or fun food stations have been very popular over the last few years, but I think couples (and guests) will want upscale seated dinners again this year. Our clientele is so interested in food and restaurants and that dining “experience”, so we’re definitely seeing that as the trend.

My advice for couples is to really think about any specific foods or dishes that the two of you love and would like to see at your wedding. For example, I absolutely need a dish with a poached egg at my wedding…it’s a must, so I would let a caterer know this when I request a proposal. This helps with the menu being more tailored to your taste. Don’t go crazy with too many suggestions, but it’s so helpful when our couples have an idea of the type of food they want or their favorite restaurants, which helps give us a sense of the type of food they like.

Photo Courtesy of Boutique Bites

Q. You are always the belle of the ball at industry events, what do you imagine walking down the aisle in?

A. Thank you! Surprisingly I have not looked at any dresses yet. And with my wedding 6 months away, I know that I need to get on it. I don’t even know what type of dress I’ll choose. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Q. What Chicago vendors can we expect to see helping you both make this your dream wedding?

A. I have such great contacts with amazing vendors in this city…it’s almost hard to choose! The only person we have on board so far is Beth Bernstein of SQN Events. Beth and I are great friends and she was one of the first people I called the next morning after our engagement. I’m so happy that she will be our wedding planner. As for everyone else, we are still making decisions and hope to have everything secured by mid February. It’s funny to be on the other side after catering and helping plan so many weddings over the last few years. I’m glad Anthony and I are both in the business!

{As we head to the press, Vazquez and Martin are happy to announce they have found their shutter bug. Dennis Lee Photography will be capturing the big day action.}

As these two continue putting ingredients in the pot for a perfect Chicago wedding day, we will be waiting in anticipation for the final delicious masterpiece.  What else have we got cooking this month? #meant2beChicago is hanging onto the details for now. But coming soon we’ll have a stylish Wicker Park shop owner with a wedding that sets our hearts a flutter.


One Response to Meant 2 Be Engaged: Congratulations due in the chefs corner

  1. suzyb says:

    beautiful couple, and great interview. congrats to them!

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