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When A Man Thinks Outside the Box for His Lady & Hires Me

butternut squash salad

Most of my clients are women.

To date, I’ve had 3 men. What is it with that? I thought fellas were into shaking things up and being inventive in keeping romanticism alive in a thriving (or not) relationship?

So many men I know are lax and live by the philosophy that women aren’t made the way our mothers and grandmother’s were.

Well, I say the same about said men.

I like to be properly courted. Yeah, open the door for me every time I get in and out of the car. Walk closer to the curb and gently bring back to the inside with your hand curbing my waist. Rub my feet after you know I’ve cooked in 4″ heels.

Hell, I cook for you just about every day. And not just ho-hum, mediocre food. I burn in my cocina, as one former “friend” says. I am that old fashioned woman.

When a man approaches relationships with a very old fashioned mentality, I always raise my eyebrow. More often than not, he expects the woman to be in the kitchen, slaving over his meal, while he reads his paper, as I set the table and chime the bell. It’s not the old fashion philosophy where he takes ownership of his role as the man of the house. It’s more of a machista attitude.

Geesh, this is NOT supposed to be  post about my perceived notion of where ill-fated relationships stand this day. Really. My point is to highlight and recognize when a man has matured to the point where he indulges his woman and satiates all her senses.

A good friend and I barter: food for photography. Works very well. He loves my food, I love his work. Plus, he’s John Legend’s road photog. And, since John doesn’t know he’s my husband-to-be, having SM in my circle of friends, makes John very accessible.

SM has been dating a woman for 4 months and she was visiting ATL for the 1st time. He wanted to do something sexy, out the box and impressive, without losing his true personality, for Lady A.

I needed a last minute photo shoot for some head shots. And he needed something other than eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at the socially hot spots here in the “A.” He was so clever in calling me.


SM has a discriminating palate. Not because he’s into gourmet. He simply hasn’t explored too much. But, he knew exactly what he wanted. And I complied. Plus, what he requested is something I’ve designated as my super healthy go-to dinner when I don’t have time to get all complicated.

Simple doesn’t mean sacrificing taste, quality or aesthetic appeal. Doesn’t mean home-cooked food, either. This is when the cliché “less is more” applies.

He rented out a lovely condo suite with a full kitchen at TWELVE, a high-traffic hotel in Atlantic Station that seems to attract  Atlanta’s finest and every other city’s pretty people. Everyone from Housewives of Atlanta, to Usher, NBA players & Beyoncé have been spotted exhibitioning there.

I was in.

The menu included the following for his super sweet lady:

Spicy Tilapia

My go-to spicy seared tilapia in cherry or grape tomatoes, loads of garlic, parsley and other flavor enhancing ingredients (served with jasmine rice) and a butternut squash, red potato (cooked in my 37 year old pressure cooker), boiled egg with red onion salad, drizzled with a home-made dressing.

And, flan of course, but this time in ramekins, which I do not like making, but a whole “pie” would not have been appropriate. That story will be another post.

A high-light of the evening is when I broke out my New West Knife Works Sontoku knife. I’ve used it at home only twice before, but for pictures sake (and to give his lady something to talk about), I brought the 8″  piece of art with me.

Fresh Parsley

I have over 15 knives–not a lot for someone that cooks, but when you have GOOD knives, I’ve learned you really don’t need a whole lot. Can I tell you, I just looooove this knife. Its handle is gorgeous for starters; but it also holds well in my small hand, giving me great control. The weight distribution is perfect and the blade is perfect for having sliced the eggs just the way I needed them to be. No mess, not crumbled cooked yolk or broken white. It really allowed me to present a beautiful salad.

I’ll eventually do a full review of my knives and compare what I have to NWNW.

The best part is this: As I’m packing, I accidentally placed the knife in the big carry-all, without placing it in its leather sleeve. The knife quickly made its way out of the bag, landing in this position, right as I’m stepping into its path:

Bren Herrera Private Dinner

Needless to say, the knife did its job, being sharp enough to butcher my foot, had my timing been off and dented the hardwood floors!

I’m looking forward to playing around with more of these Japanese style knives, especially the bread knife, since I’m experimenting with Cuban bread varieties.

Of course, without coming close to obliterating my toes!

Bren Herrera Cooking in Heels

My friend and his lady enjoyed a private and intimate dinner, and she was enamored even more with her guy. She took some notes while I cooked in the pressure cooker and asked great questions on the difference between steaming and boiling. She demonstrated interest in possibly cooking for him, seeing as though she’s NOT any type of cook. On the other hand, SM tried kalamata olives for the 1st time and loved them (mind you, last time I made him the dish, he discreetly pushed them aside–guess he didn’t know a small jar costs $5.00).

Miss A was impressed with his openness. And, I was charmed by his exciting interest in doing something different for her.

Our photo shoot did happen the next day, albeit cut short due to heavy winds and on-coming rain, but I share here a few sneak peak shots of our expedited, 30- minute test run. A re-do is scheduled.

Bren Herrera Photo Shoot

Men, get your game together and show her you aren’t all about video games, b-ball games, brews, and all else that sometimes bores us. Engage our senses and demonstrate you are thoughtful in many ways. Restaurants run the gamut, but hiring a personal chef that custom designs a menu to accommodate your palate is just about  the sexiest thing you can do (well next to gifting her with orgasmic shoes) and is priceless!

Just sayin’.

The recipe for the tilapia can be downloaded here. Don’t mind the pictures in that post. I had been blogging less than a week!


Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!




  • 1/2  lb. fresh tilapia (about 3-4 filets)
  • bunch of fresh curly parsley, about 5 stems, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes or 1 whole tomato (cut in half or fours if using whole tomato)(I used whole tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half (I used black olives and they were just as good!)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Add fish to skillet and sauté until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer fish to platter and set aside. Add tomatoes, olives, and garlic to same skillet; sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2 minutes. Add parsley and crushed red pepper to same skillet. Season sauce with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon over fish and serve with white rice. (you may substitute tilapia for orange roughy or red snapper).

Serves you and him, twice.

86 thoughts on “When A Man Thinks Outside the Box for His Lady & Hires Me

  1. Love the fish dish, Bren – it had all the flavas I like. I get it…a few pics with you cooking in heels and male customers are lining up! 😉

  2. Yum food! My mouth is watering and now I am hungry before bed. LOL

    The pics? Amazing! Love the shoot pics. Lookiin’ fab-u-lous!

  3. Girl did you get even skinnier?? Gosh you look great! I totally MISS you!!

    Ok so i love love LOVE this post. HELLO! A romantic man who does thoughtful things??! Rented a suite? YES! He should teach a class. Can you please hook me up with his equally romantic, fine, faithful brother…or cousin. LOL! I want that old fashioned man who believes in romance, suprises and protects his lady. But anyway…

    The food looked AMAZING! I’m a fan of Talapia. Good pictures throughout. Artistic and yummy!

  4. Rosa: it was lovely and soo simple, that’s what really made it special for them. Thanks on the shoes! 🙂

    Peter: Maybe you can write a post on the sexiness of a woman cooking for a man in those type stilettos and link back to me! I kick you back! 🙂

    Val: Absolutely! We should and deserve to benefit, too!

    Chris: LOL! SM did a great job, w/out even trying.

    Miesha: Hahaha. No, I think I just wore the right clothes. I’ve not gained tho, so that’s good. Still eating like a fool! Back in gym regiment. This man is def. on it his thing when it comes to treating his lady to special, extraordinary things. They’ll last for that reason. Miss you, too, btw!

  5. Girl, I don’t know which I want more, those black strappy sandals or that sexy Santoku. This post has it all, beautiful food, sexy shoes, and gorgeous knives. I love my Santoku. It’s by far the best knife in my kitchen. I’d like to have a 5″ one. It’s better for those of us who are vertically challenged.

  6. Very curious about that salad! It’s quite unique. If more men would think outside the box, they would definitely have more luck with the ladies. Every man needs to learn how to cook a couple of dishes really well…or just get someone else to cook them. 🙂

  7. great pics, I know the food will be great. I just listened to my son go on about women and their expectations.According to him they don’t want romance, they are just looking at his money( doesn’t have any as he is in the reserves and works for the reserves as a civilian) or nookie,( which is ok AFTER he gets to know her. Last date even I was concerned,he works 2 jobs, so he put a good roast in crock pot, did a wonderful sauce ( got that from me) had a good wine already, tablecloth, candles, flowers. She got in after driving 4 hrs and he worked 1 1/2 shifts.He planned dinner about an hour after they got in so it’s wasn’t come in and sit down…she makes a comment about him being to girlish because of the table and food.He said he is going to start dating women in their forties that like working and SHARING the chores and don’t mind his tablecloth and candles LOL( he is 27 and has dated women older than me)

  8. Now that is such a good idea for him to do – and the photos, love! That knife is the hotness and you know how I am about my knives!

  9. Thanks for the post… there ARE romantic men still out there! The example in the article above proves it. I find that tips and suggestions like these really help to show your wife or husband or bf/gf that you’re still paying attention.

    I’d be interested if anyone else has any other “non traditional” date ideas to suggest, specifically for guys. I’ve found a couple books, with lists of ideas and advice –a good one I’ve found on Amazon.com is “101 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Wife”. This one has been GREAT for ways to show her you’re still in love and romantic, so that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

    But if anyone has any other suggestions for showing my wife that I actually still WANT to show her affection and love, and really surprise her from time to time, I’d be interested to hear any other ideas people have. Thanks again for your post.

  10. That dish looks great. Props to homeboy for planning a night like that for his girl.

  11. Man sis that first dish with the eggs looks sooo tasty 🙂 And the pic with the knife and your foot looks like a movie poster picture.

  12. OMG!! LOL!! I hope your including me as one of the 3 men?? How are you doing!! Just wanted to stop by and check on FB.E!! Since your did our dinner party, i’ve been tasting/having cravings of your wonderful rice,blk beans, and that chicken or shrimp that that white wine cream sauce(hurting me typing this!! Gotta work something out soon 🙂 I like this idea? Hmmmm!

  13. I’m new to your blog! As the girl in me can’t help! Love those shoes!!!!

    I’ve been looking for good knives for a long time. Only own a few and can’t wait to look into the ones that almost took out your toe! Bad knife!

    Gonna have to try the dish on my sweetie. I cook all the time and I always know I have a winner when he gets seconds.

  14. Great post! You know how I love discussing, writing and reading about relationships! And I agree with your take 100%. I too want to be courted. I too want to feel like a man fills his role without pushing it to the extremism of machismo. What SM did was so romantic and creative. Not many men would go that extra mile, especially not for a woman they’re just dating.

    We will find that man one day!

  15. Love this post! I remember (before we were married) how my hubby would find creative ways to woo me- it worked!

    I’ll check out your tilapia recipe later.

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