Keep the Romance Simmering with 5 Tips for Stay-At-Home Cooking Dates

Staying at home has been the new normal since February/March of 2020, with no end in sight for most states. Outside entertainment has come to a halt, such as going to the movies, bowling, and worst of all—going out to eat! Without those activities available, going out for a fun date is challenging, but not impossible. With a little thought and some extra effort, a fun AND romantic time can be had right in your home.


Here are some tips to make your time at home more enjoyable. These can work for anyone. Whether you’re in a committed relationship, single or it’s just you and your colony of cats, these tips will help you stay entertained with food.


  • Firstly, put the phone down! Listen, I’m not a relationship expert but holding and scrolling through your phone is a major distraction, and to be honest, very rude. Put the phone down for a while—the internet can wait. Pay attention to everything else around you, especially loved ones.


  • If you can’t go out for the food, make it yourself. Cooking is such a rewarding activity and cooking for someone else is super romantic. I LOVE being cooked for. I got so excited by a date’s home-cooked meal—I fainted once. Try making at-home versions of some of the favorite foods you like when you go out to eat. is a great site to search. Also, preparing certain foods such as fish, pasta and chocolate will trigger endorphins in your body that will make you feel GOOD. Sign me up for that.


  • Be open to trying something new. Remember when you were a kid, and you made something in the kitchen for the first time? Pancakes, cookies, cupcakes, grilled cheese, pizza? Wasn’t that exciting? Experimenting with food is how we expand our tastes. How will you know if you like something or not if you don’t try it? If you love Asian food and want to try something you haven't had before, has fantastic chef-created recipes that will blow your socks off. Give them a try!


  • It’s ok if it’s not insta-perfect. As long as the food tastes good, who cares if you can’t get the perfect shot for Instagram? I’ve made plenty of lasagnas that when you cut out a slice, it fell apart. But let me tell you, it was love at first, second, AND third bite! Especially if you’re making something for the first time, it’s not always going to be ideal. Let the imperfections give you the motivation to improve and make it better the next time.


  • Support your local small businesses. The number of small businesses that are struggling to hang on for dear life right now is astounding. Buying a few dry ingredients and produce items from the local mom-and-pop bodega down the street from you is much appreciated, and for me, it makes me feel good inside knowing I can support a business in need AND create a delicious meal from what I purchased. It’s a win-win situation leaving everyone with a smile on their faces.



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Jesse B. Jackson III

Jesse B. Jackson III

Food Educator

Jesse studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Jesse competed in the state competition for SkillsUSA. He won 1st place in commercial baking and placed 4th in the national competition. After graduation, Jesse moved to Boston and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park for another degree in baking and pastry arts. He was then offered the position of executive pastry chef at No.9 Park, one of the country’s most esteemed restaurants. After two years, Jesse started a business called Fedora Doughnuts, a specialty doughnut and coffee catering company. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fedora Doughnuts had to cease operations mid-2020, however, shortly afterwards Jesse made a career shift into the Culinary Education field and accepted an offer to become a Baking & Pastry Chef Instructor at The Culinary Institute of America. A position he’s been preparing for his entire career.

If Mars was livable, and you accept a one-way ticket to host a party there, who would you invite (4 guests max), and what would you cook?
I would invite my mother because she birthed me and has ALWAYS supported me throughout my life and career. I would invite Jeff Goldblum, a handsome, suave, slender gentleman (like myself), and a great conversationalist. He would make dining interesting. Dominique Ansel: a visionary pastry chef. I would LOVE to pick his mind about innovation and creativity. Lastly, I would invite my mentor and godmother, Darcy Sala. She taught me everything I know about food and hospitality. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career without her. I would cook the cuisine I love most: Carolina BBQ! Ribs, brisket, cornbread, slaw, smoked sausage.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?
Apart from being a pastry chef, I am also an avid real estate investor. So, I suppose a “ridiculous goal” would be to own 1000 rental properties across the United States, but I’m in no rush… at least before I retire.

What’s your favorite food holiday?
National Croissant Day!

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