This year, we at the MICHELIN Guide noticed a recurring theme: chef/owners who happen to work with their spouses. Yet another example is husband-and-wife team David and Anna Posey, who first met at Chicagoland hotspot Blackbird where David was the new chef de cuisine and Anna was a pastry intern. Fast forward to the opening of Elske—Danish for ‘love’—in the West Loop, offering a refined tasting menu for the reasonably-priced tune of $85.
Elske was awarded a coved star in the 2018 MICHELIN Guide Chicago.
‘’We feel lucky to work together, even if it’s challenging at times,” says Anna Posey. “If we didn’t work together, we would sadly probably never see each other!”
Here, we ask the Poseys how they manage to maintain their chemistry both in and out of the kitchen.
When did you decide to work together?
It was more of a natural progression of our relationship. Once we were engaged, we began seriously talking about our future restaurant. I don't think we ever thought about not working together.
What was the dynamic between the two of you then versus now?
Before you work together, there is a sort of anxious anticipation because you really don't know if you are going to work well together. But, as soon as we started, the pieces fell into place and we relaxed a bit. Now, we feel lucky! Very few work partners have such a strong bond, which also bring us closer together as a husband and wife.
What challenges do/did you face?
Everyone who has ever opened a restaurant says "opening a restaurant is so hard," but they can't really explain how, and now we understand. There are so many moving parts that have to come together to open a restaurant. Once you're open, there are different challenges to face and you are responsible for many peoples' happiness. It can be stressful, but we are trying our best to make our employees happy and create a creative, positive workplace.
How would you describe your communication with each other?
We have a very strong intuitive connection, where I think we know how the other one is feeling without having to say much.
How are you able to balance your home and work lives?
We made sure we would still have our own quality time by closing the restaurant two days a week. So most Mondays and Tuesdays, we have off together. There are many weekends where we still have to work, but we always make sure we take a little time for ourselves as a couple. We love grabbing dinner or drinks at one of our favorite spots in Chicago (Lula Cafe, Giant, Estereo, Quixote), or we will roast a chicken and drink a bottle of wine at home.
What would be your advice to other couples that work together?
By far the most important advice would be to not let your emotions as a couple get the best of you at work. You learn quickly in kitchens that what happens on the line doesn't leave with you when you go home. We try to use that mentality with our relationship at work. We might have had a rough night in the kitchen, but when we leave the restaurant, we leave the rough-night issues there.