This months featured significant other is yet another outstanding example of someone who works outside the culinary world yet is always working to understand what it takes to thrive in her restaurant relationship, adapting to how life changes as his career takes off. Reading her answers, I feel such a strong partnership with her husband, (voted F&W 2009 Best New Chef) not just in life but as a grounding force in her restaurant mans success.
I’m speaking of Memphis, Tennessee native, Angela Brignole English, wife and partner to Chef Kelly English, originally from New Orleans and owner of Restaurant Iris in Memphis while also running the Kelly English Steakhouse at Harrahs Casino in St. Louis, Missouri. If I were to predict his culinary trajectory, I’d say he’s just getting started!
While enjoying her hometown of Memphis, Angela is a licensed clinical social worker and the Director of Quality Initiatives at a healthcare firm, enjoying life with her chef husband and three dogs: Shelby, Pappy, and Benton.
Let’s hear what Angela has to say about what life is like, being married to a successful chef and restauranteur. Thank you immensely Angela for your willingness to share your experiences and show others that they too, have what it takes to thrive in this kind of relationship!
What were your first impressions when you first realized that by being with your restaurant man/woman, which you have become a part of the restaurant world?
A. As a licensed clinical social worker and a director at a private healthcare firm, it was a while before I envisioned myself as being part of the restaurant world. It was very foreign to me, and because I don’t work directly in the restaurant I was a bit of a fish out of water. Although I met other chef wives or partners, I still didn’t feel connected to the industry because so many of them met or work with their spouses in their restaurant. Over the years, I have built relationships with some of the chefs’ wives; we enjoy being together at social events and discussing the challenges we share, as well as celebrating one anothers triumphs and successes.
When did you know that you had what it took, within the parameters of his/her career, to find success in your relationship?
We are still learning, as our business grows and expands the demands on our time and resources also increase. Of course, Kelly worked 12-16 hours a day since we began dating so the work load and dynamic of our relationship hasn’t changed too much. We both know what to expect from his profession, so we accept it and make the most of our time outside of the restaurants.
What is the BEST part of being married to someone in the restaurant industry?
A. I love traveling to different cities, eating great food, and exploring other cultures. There is a big difference in going to a restaurant as a diner, versus with your chef spouse. I love the special treatment!
How do you handle the holidays knowing he/she is going to be busy at work?
A. The holidays are the holidays; he has always worked on those days, so it’s part of accepting who he is professionally. I’m okay with it, but once on Valentine’s Day I was dining alone at our restaurant and overheard some of the guests feeling concerned about “the young lady eating alone on Valentine’s Day.” When Kelly came out to give me a big hug and a kiss, I could see the look of relief on their faces and we got a good laugh.
How has achieving acclaim and success, within the restaurant industry, changed your relationship?
A. As Kelly has gained notoriety, it’s brought to light the fact that he and I have very different perspectives regarding boundaries. As a therapist I tend to have more conservative boundaries (i.e., I would think it inappropriate for a patron to comment or inquire about our personal life), while Kelly tends to be more of an open book. Finding (and sticking to) a balance that respects both of our levels of comfort is a work in progress!