The Great Ones is a celebration of humans we admire — and an exploration of why they cook, not just how. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring three couples who express their love through cooking. Eden Grinshpan is a trained chef and television host (see: Top Chef Canada), and her husband, Ido, works in media, but they’re widely known for their openness and humor about the experience of being new parents. At their apartment in Brooklyn, Eden and Ido cooked clams and chatted about their whirlwind romance.
Ido: The first time I met her parents we were three weeks into dating and already engaged, so it was like trying to defuse a bomb. I cooked for them. I made them meatballs that are kind of my speciality — they’re Middle Eastern, and they're cooked in a tomato sauce that has chickpeas and cilantro and preserved lemons. And her parents were like, Oh well, maybe this guy's not so bad.
We were three weeks into dating and already engaged.
Eden: His meatballs are exceptional. Ido is a really, really good cook. But yeah, he proposed to me three weeks after we met. I was in Israel getting over an ex, and the last night I was there, I went to a bar and started talking to these two girls that I didn’t know. They asked me where I lived, and I said New York, and they said, "Well, we have someone you need to meet." That was that. They Facebook Messaged him, and I wrote my name in, and he added me on Facebook the day after. When I got back to New York, I reached out to him, and we went out the following Friday. I got to the bar early, and when he showed up, we both did not expect what was coming. That night, he introduced me to a stranger as his girlfriend and I was like, Cool. We closed the bar down. We pretty much spent the next two weeks together. We were in it.
Ido: I went to Israel for work and proposed the day I came back… We’re pretty attached at the hip.
Eden: With my career it's either I'm working like crazy or I'm not working at all. I shoot Top Chef Canada one month of the year, and I just wrote my first cookbook, which comes out in the fall of 2020. Right now I'm in an in-between phase, and I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking for my family and with Ayv. I like to have dinner ready before Ido gets home because I hate the question “What are we eating for dinner?”
Ido: Especially having that conversation when you're really hungry, it’s hard to think straight.
Eden: I don't usually like eating without Ido. When you eat any meal it's such a social experience. Even with Ayv, I don't want her to be alone at the table. If you think about putting a baby in a high chair by themselves and being like, Eat, kid, eat, it feels a little weird. So when she sits down I nosh, but then, after we put her down, Ido and I will sit down and eat dinner together.
"Why is this going viral?"
Eden: I started engaging with Instagram because of my TV background. Sometimes people don't understand that I actually went to culinary school and got my start in television as a host. I always had this little voice in food, but I didn't really get my solid following until I started putting food on my pregnant body, which was this random moment in our lives. It was the night of the Oscars and I was, like, seven and a half months pregnant. We ordered pizza and put it on my body, and I wrote, "Our Oscar party is lit," and then the picture went viral. We were like, "Why is this going viral?" And then we realized that not many pregnant women are out there having fun and embracing it.
Eden: For anyone out there that's been pregnant, they know the last trimester is a nightmare, especially the last month. It was the perfect thing to focus on during the last month or two of my pregnancy. We just went for it and took all these pictures. And then that kind of evolved into me being this honest, open mother online. Which turned it into #pumpdance. I'm a very outgoing person, and I grew up dancing.
Ido: I remember a conversation when Instagram was a new thing, and I was like, "I just don't get it. Why would people want to see what I do? Who cares?" And I have to say, now it's something we enjoy doing. First and foremost, it's an outlet for us to have fun.
Eden: I think we’re good at getting people to loosen up.
Eden: I prefer any kind of food I can eat with my hands — it just makes things intimate. I feel like, when you get to eat with your hands, it slows things down and gives you that opportunity to have some really great conversation. And I feel like that’s what Valentine's Day is all about: connecting with that person that means a lot to you.
Eden: Cooking clams and mussels at home feels luxurious and special, but they’re so simple. Today we made a recipe for clams adapted from my cookbook. You finely chop the garlic, fennel, and shallots and put them into The Dutchess with five tablespoons of unsalted butter and some olive oil. Add in a pinch of saffron and the Aleppo pepper and some salt and pepper. Then sauté it for around five minutes on medium heat. Once it starts to get a little bit caramelized, add white wine and the clams, which have been soaking in cold water for 20 minutes. Make sure you drain the clams well because the sand will fall to the bottom. Mix it up, and cover it for around five minutes to let the clams open up. I like to mix the clams into the sauce at the end to make sure all that briny, saucy goodness gets into every clam. We finished it with freshly chopped parsley, some fennel fronds that I collected from the fennel, and then the dill. I think dill really adds an extra pop. Serve it with a crusty baguette or some fresh sourdough — anything that has a really good crustiness to it to hold up to that beautiful sauce because, as much as the clams are amazing, I really do feel like the sauce is the star of the show.
Eden: When we met I was 25 years old, and I didn't have a care in the world. I was wild and free, and we fell in love with each other in that world. We're lucky because, when we get the chance to be alone, it's very easy for us to tap into that kind of energy.