Eric Ziebold and Célia Laurent started out as co-workers over a decade ago. Fast forward to today and now they are married with a young daughter and two separate Michelin-starred restaurants. Running a business can be stressful enough on its own, but doing so with your life partner can introduce its own unique set of circumstances. Below, the couple shares a glimpse of their experience with what it's like to both live and work together.
How did you meet?We met in 2004 while working at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Eric was the chef de cuisine and Célia was working there temporarily in preparation of the opening of Per Se in New York City, another one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants.
When did you decide to work together?When Célia made the decision to move to Washington, D.C. in 2009. First, we worked together at CityZen; then we both took some time off to focus on the opening of Kinship and Métier—our two dream restaurants in the nation’s capital.
What was the dynamic between the two of you then versus now?We always treated the restaurants we worked in as if they were our own, so the level of commitment to what we were doing was strong, even then with a lot of energy between us on the possibilities that the future might bring. We were always brainstorming ideas on what we could do if we were to build our dream restaurant, where it could be (city and location) and more. There is added pressure now that we actually own two restaurants and not just one. We are very conscious that this is the most active moment in time in our lives. You could say that before was the honeymoon period and now we are deep into our marriage.
How are you able to balance your home and work lives?We are conscientious about unplugging and disconnecting when at home; we focus on ourselves and our family on the few days we spend at home every week to get the most out of that time. It is essential to be present in the moment.
What would be your advice to other couples that work together?Everyone is different and some of what works for us might not work for others. Find out what is best for you personally and for your family. Be mindful of the quality time you have and make it count. Leave the stress of work at work and do not hold grudges from issues or moments of stress you have had during the day. Doing so would build resentment and eventually be negative both personally and for the business. It is difficult to never talk about the restaurant at home, but it is inevitable as is one of the subjects we are both still very passionate about—we try to choose the wisest time to do it when we have to and keep it constructive.
Hero Image: Maine Lobster French Toast from Kinship. (Photo Credit: Jennifer Chase Photography.)