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Table for Two

Mary Murray

For Kyle and Rachel Pintarelli, the husband-and-wife team behind Rockstar Catering Company and Event Planners in Tequesta, every event is a labor of love. Kyle, the executive chef, oversees all of the fare while Rachel takes charge of the decor and planning. We asked the duo for food and design tips for setting the right mood for an intimate meal.

PBI.com: How would you craft the setting for a romantic dinner?

For a romantic ambiance, dine by candlelight. Image by Barca Designs.

Rachel: Create a private space. Turn your dinning room into a setting for two by removing the leaf extender and all extra chairs for a super-cozy feel. To take things to the next level, move away from the dining room table and find a unique setting—arrange a picnic-style meal in a room with a fireplace or opt for alfresco dining on the patio if the weather is right. [Also] lighting is key. If you have the option, dim the overhead lighting and add candlelight.

Any suggestions for centerpieces or other table decor?

Rachel: When it comes to decor, simplicity makes a huge impact. The one area where I believe excess is acceptable is with candlelight. Don't be afraid to mix and match the shapes and sizes of candles; informality adds a relaxed touch of elegance. Tip: Make sure your candles are unscented so that they don't overpower the smells and flavors from your delicious meal. Next, go ahead and add some flowers, but avoid putting one tall arrangement in the center of the table—after all, your date for the evening is the one you want to look at. Try one shorter arrangement for the center of the table, or even multiple single stem arrangements at varying heights.

Any suggestions for appetizers?

Kyle: When possible, try to work with seasonal ingredients and local products. Since we are down here in the southern tropics, a stone crab chowder would be a great kickoff. Alternatively, you could do a rock shrimp and scallop ceviche; serve it in a martini glass for a little extra pop of class. If you are both carnivores, you can always go with a Carpaccio. Simply chill a nice tenderloin in the freezer to let it firm, slice it paper thin, then fan it across the plate. Top it off with a simple baby arugula salad and mustard aioli.

What about for the entrée?

Kyle: If you are looking for something on the lighter side, try pan searing a great piece of fish, like grouper. Top it off with a fresh salsa of heirloom tomatoes, red onions, capers and a little balsamic vinegar.

Entrée idea: Grilled Maine lobster with purple Peruvian potatoes, haricots verts and corn on the cob. Image by Jemma Coleman Photography

Finally, what should you serve for dessert?

Kyle: Crème brûlée; molten lava cake (easy to prepare, impossible to master); fresh berries with a touch of Grand Marnier and some freshly whipped cream.

Rachel: I recommend sharing any of the above. One amazing treat plus two spoons equals instant fireworks. Dessert is a surefire way to tell your special someone how sweet it is to be loved by you.

Do you believe in food aphrodisiacs, like oysters?

Kyle: I personally do not, but I am certainly aware of the hundreds of cultures that have long declared foods such as oysters to help with libido. The only scientific evidence for these claims though would be the high content of zinc, which may (to a very slight degree) boost libido. I would say if anything, chili peppers and beer would get my vote for a culinary aphrodisiac.

What elements would you incorporate, either in terms of food or decor, to go the extra mile and really elevate the dinner?

Rachel: Music is a must! Select something meaningful, like a band you once saw together on a date (should it fit into your intended vibe for the evening), or your wedding playlist (for the married couples out there).

Kyle: Cook together. That's what this is all about, right?

Anything else you'd like to add or suggest?

Rachel: The gesture of preparing and organizing a romantic evening in itself is romantic, so above all, be sure to take time to enjoy your efforts, enjoy each other and revel in the happiness it brings to you and your sweetie.

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