For dessert, it’s ice cream sundaes with Jessica’s hot fudge sauce and vanilla Häagen-Dazs. (“NOT vanilla bean. I’m very specific,” Jessica clarifies). To drink? Shots from a giant bottle of Beluga vodka, paired with pickles. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor
Norma Listman and Saqib Keval: Big Cheeseboard Energy
“I always joke that we [found each other] on Craigslist, Missed Connections,” says Saqib Keval. He’s talking about meeting his now wife, Norma Listman, back in 2014 while both were working at a mutual friend’s Oakland restaurant—Listman as a consultant during the day, Keval as a chef in the evenings. Luckily, neither had to post online to reconnect after their first encounter. “I was more annoyed than anything at first,” Listman jokes, explaining how the two kept bumping into each other in the kitchen over the next few months.
It wasn’t until the first time they worked together directly, for the community-based dining and activism project, People’s Kitchen Collective, that everything changed. “I heard him speak, and I was like, ‘Oh, this guy is actually very smart—and cute,’” she says. From there, the two began dating, opened their restaurant Masala y Maiz in Mexico City in 2017, and got married in 2019.
On their dream date, Listman and Keval are all about simple, high-quality food. The menu: “Steak over a fire, in a cast iron, with a lot of salad—perfect tomatoes, beautiful bread, butter, and wine,” Listman says. “That’s actually what we had on one of our first dates,” Keval says. Forgoing the pastries or the ubiquitous V-Day chocolaty treat, they would opt for a cheeseboard, with fresh, seasonal fruit to round out the evening. “We’re not big dessert people,” says Keval, who would prefer “a really perfect peach or nectarine.” Listman agrees: “Topped with chili-lime salt and sugar.”