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  SAUCE MAGAZINE
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Nov 26, 2014
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Perfect Mix: An interview with Wil and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz

January 11th 10:01am, 2013



We all know mixing business and pleasure can be a recipe for disaster, but for Wilfrin and Lisa Fernandez-Cruz, there’s never been a difference between the two. They met while working at 202, a now-closed restaurant in New York’s Chelsea Market. Wil, having emigrated from the Dominican Republic, had climbed the restaurant ladder to sous chef, and Lisa was making pastries. After marriage, two babies and a job change, the pair has been reunited in the kitchen at The Cheshire. He’s the executive chef for the newly opened The Restaurant, its catering arm and The Market (coming soon). She’s executive pastry chef for all of The Cheshire’s eating establishments. And thankfully for St. Louis diners, their recipe for making it work tastes just right.

What was the final impetus to leave NYC?

LF: It was always in the back of my head to bring the kids back. There are just so many more opportunities for them here. But one day, I had one of those days where your bag breaks on the subway, then you trip and fall and step into a huge puddle, and a man screams at you for no reason …

WF: And some guy is puking …

LF: Or pees on your shoe. And I’m like, am I in a movie? I called my sister crying, and the next day she sent me an email that said, “I found this ad on Craigslist and maybe you should apply; there’s a job for your husband at the same place.” We were here within three weeks of applying.

Did you start dating at 202?

WF: We met there – dated, got married; it was a beautiful time.

LF: Well, I didn’t talk to him at first. He didn’t speak any English! He was like, “Hola lady.”

You learned English to woo her?

WF: Pretty much.

LF: He slipped me his number one day.

WF: I was that creepy guy.

What’s your best tactic for working together?

LF: We’re brutally honest without hurting each other’s feelings.

WF: We work really well together. We knew that going in. We fell in love working in a kitchen. I look at Lisa as a business person. Outside, we’re married. Here, we’re co-workers. I’m not like, “Hey sweetie, can you do this for me?”

Your kids must have the most sophisticated palates in all of day care and kindergarten.

LF: George [the 3-year-old] has a 100-percent salt palate. Every single morning he wants eggs and bacon. “Did you put salt on this?” he’ll say.

WF: Then, “Can I just have the salt? I’ll salt it myself.”

LF: But Wil [the 5-year-old] is about the cakes, cookies and candy. Every day, he asks me, “Are you gong to make some cupcakes today? Do you want to bring some home?”

LF: Food; it’s pretty much our life.

WF: It is our life.

— photo by Ashley Gieseking

 

By Julie Cohen

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