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Is it better for just one partner to be the cook?

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Do you and your SO share the cooking responsibilities? Do you cook together or on separate nights? Do you prefer to be with someone that stays out of the kitchen?

My experience has been I rather prepare something w/out getting constant commentary during the process,but I do also enjoy being cooked for. What about you, chowhounds?

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  1. My husband taught me to cook and I think our best times are when we're getting in one another's way in the kitchen. I just love cooking with that man.

    1. My husband has an annoying habit of adding ingredients to the dishes I fix. Corn to a fish taco or mushrooms to a pasta sauce. It drives me crazy! But he gives me puppy-dog eyes if I complain. Maybe one cook, at least one at a time, is best.

      1. A good question, and one I've thought a lot about. I spent about 6 years dating a chef and feeling marginalized in the kitchen. His approach was very restaurant and mine was more "my grandma taught me this..." Now I'm married to a man who is newish to cooking. I've had a chance to learn a lot about food and cooking (even perfecting techniques learned from the Dominant Chef) and have reclaimed the kitchen. My husband has learned as well and has become quite deft behind the stove. We find it's best for someone to take the lead on a given night-- if he's planned the meal, I'll play sous chef and vice versa. That has worked for us thus far...

        1. What an interesting topic! Hmm, my husband is a good cook, but he doesn't enjoy it. So the (rare) times he does, it's really such a treat to have a meal cooked for me. OTOH, I do love to cook and two of us could never fit in our tiny Boston galley kitchen. And, as I'm a messy cook, we co-exist happily with me being the chef and he the clean-up crew.

          1. Hubby & I trade off duties. If he's in charge I sous and clean and vice versa. We inspire each other creatively and have both become better cooks because of this. We get along famously in our teeny kitchen since we know it's the builder's fault it's small, not ours. I don't even have to turn around or reach to hand him anything. I think of our times together in the kitchen as a microcosm of our relationship.

            1. i thoroughly enjoy having my SO in the kitchen with me as the preparation for our "legendary" sunday night dinners commence. on most of those decadent evenings, he tends bar (ensuring that champagne glasses flow or cocktails are aplenty)& prepares the munchies for the cooking festivities (crackers, cheese, & other delights we've gotten for the evening). if i'm engrossed in chopping, massaging raw meat with rubs, or seriously multi-tasking, he feeds me bite size crackers, holds a glass to my mouth with a straw in it, or is on the floor scrubbing up any drips or veggies that have jumped off the cutting board in search for freedom (he takes clean-up duty to a new extreme - the boy is ocd).

              lately he's taken up some sous chef responsibilities & chops like a champ, provides excellent seasoning advice, & has the best timing in boiling pasta like you wouldn't believe... he's also a great pour-er (he takes a ridiculous amount of pride in pouring equal pours of drinks 99.86 percent of the time).

              i love him most when he's in the kitchen getting messy with me - i wouldn't change that for anything. really, it's probably the only time we get along... good thing we both like to eat!

              1. I am married to a chef and I don't want him in my kitchen. He is so used to the restuarant that he forgets that at the end of the nigt there is no dishwasher to scrub down the counters, floors and walls plus clean all the pots and pans. he is a fabulous cook and eating his food is a treat but I would rather go and order it off the menu.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bolivianita

                  Here here! My partner is a chef, too, and only occasionally does he clean the kitchen. I'm a professional chef, too, (pastry) and am accustomed to doing my own dishes (many of my tins and tools are too delicate to send to the dishwasher), so I usually end up doing them all!

                  Bottom line, I love eating at his restaurant--I get the great food and don't have to do the dishes!

                2. My husband is a great cook and I consider myself a great cook. What works for us, however, is the fact that he is like an artist (in the kitchen only)and needs to be inspired to cook. I am the everyday cook.I cook out of the need to nurture.

                  Since we have such different styles in the kitchen we tend to stay out of each other's way. I cook by adding twists to very familiar recipes and comfort foods I grew up with, so I really don't need or enjoy his input. And he feels like I am disturbing his creativity by watching him.

                  1. Well, as what would seem to be the only guy posting a reply, I may get yelled at. Since I do most of the cooking (which I enjoy, by the way), I prefer my wife not be in the kitchen. And she happily obliges. Mostley because I love to cook and we have a small kitchen. So when I make dinner, and she wants to help, I usually refer to her as my "Mastercard"...she's everyplace I want to be. She will, however, readily clean the kitchen afterwards;
                    no small feat when I get through.

                    1. I hate anyone in my kitchen unless we are really sharing the chores, just let me be when I'm cooking alone if not. Plus I have a very small kitchen, so it isn't one I want people hanging in unless I have given them a job!

                      My husband knows nothing about cooking nor does he want to, and that is fine. He isn't even a "grill" guy.

                      My only problem is, I hate having to come up with all the ideas. Once in a great while I can get an answer to "what would you like to eat"?.

                      I would love to be married to someone that likes to cook too though. Or at least give me an answer to what they may want to eat. THEN I can come up with the cooking if you just tell me if you want fish, poultry or beef.

                      Over the past few years I had access to a restaurant kitchen when not in use. I was living at a hotel, so a few of us would get together and cook, now that was great, great fun. I was a partner, so was to be able to cook for some of the kids staying with us, and teaching some of them too.

                      On another note, I no longer work, so I would never think my husband should have to come home and cook. When we both worked, we ate out a lot more.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hummingbird

                        Oh boy am I with you. Same situation. I am so jealous of those of you who have cooking partners! I love to cook, however, not ALL the time! Some of my best memories growing up are of times when we were all cooking together. Agreed, some people are not compatible in the kitchen, and I would hate someone adding stuff to my cooking, but I would be so very happy if only my husb took part. It's a little lonely doing it all myself. And YES, I too wish he would let me know on occassion what he feels like eating when I ask...

                        1. re: hummingbird

                          > "What would you like to eat?"

                          We solved this issue by clan-shopping. If you don't participate, it's going to be whatever I bring home. Now that two of my daughter-units are old enough to cook alone, they're in charge of one menu a week. They can cook together or separately but they're in charge of menu and food selection. It's not uncommon to walk each aisle and put together a meal per day. Once in a while we'll be more organized than that (for extended clan gatherings.) But it's settled the whole I-don't-want-that issue.

                        2. I do most of the cooking though my DH can and will cook. He generally leaves it to me and helps when I ask. He does do most of the grilling and rotissing. I do most of the meal planning but consult with him about anything in particular he'd like to have. I make the pizza crust but he makes the bread and what good bread it is. Luckily we have a big enough kitchen so that if we both are doing something at the same time we only moderately get in each other's way. It works for us.

                          1. *Sigh* I have been so stressed/busy lately I have ceased to enjoy cooking. My SO does not cook, except for pb&j and the most basic spaghetti. However, I love to share the kitchen when I visit my daughter, or when travelling with my cousin (who btw introduced me to Chowhound.)

                            1. My husband is the only person I can bear to share the kitchen with. I have a nice-sized kitchen, but it is way too small for me and any other woman (there, I said it, so sue me). On a typical weeknight, I cook and he does the dishes. On a lazy Saturday morning, those roles are reversed. It works for us. I do enjoy having him in the kitchen and have learned to keep my mouth shut when he is not doing something exactly the way I would do it. We love to cook together for our special dinners such as Valentine's Day or our anniversary--that's part of the celebration.

                              Like hummingbird, I do get tired of coming up with all of the ideas. (He mollifies me with "But you're so good at it!") But he is a loving and enthusiastic fellow cook whenever I ask for his help.

                              And we do have one long-standing partnership--he makes great pie crust and I don't enjoy doing that, so when we have pies and quiches he makes the crust and I make the filling.

                              1. My SO is not a cook in the least. Which is good, because I want specific things on certain days and I'll pout and not eat at all if I don't get what I want, cooked well; whereas he will just eat whatever I put in front of him. Admittedly, sometimes I wish he'd get a craving; I tire of meal planning 7 nights a week.

                                He does like to suggest things once in a while, and though I balk at a lot, it is a reminder that I shouldn't be so darn stringent in my cooking - expanding my mind wouldn't be the worst thing. He's come up with some flavour pairings I'd never have thought of.

                                Ultimately, I like being able to do my own thing in the kitchen, whether I'm cooking for my SO, or my parents; who I visit and cook for frequently. Everybody knows their only job is to keep my wine glass topped up.

                                1. I love to cook, DH loves to eat! It works out very well.

                                  I do the prep work and cooking he does the cleanup.

                                  We eat out a lot as well.

                                  1. My Dh is an awful cook unless it is on a grill or from a box. He is content being a consumer only. He has say in meal planning but is flexable. I prefer him out of my way if he helps things always end up in the wrong place. In a pinch he may come in to chop or stir but I usually let the kids help with that they enjoy it more!

                                    1. My SO also loves to cook, but it help that we like to cook very different things. So we take turns in the kitchen, with one person in charge and the other doing cutting and clean up. Who's in charge depends on our moods and schedules, with the less busy person doing most of the cooking. He's the only one who really "gets" me in the kitchen; I hate cooking with people who I have to explain every little thing to. It's not their fault, it's just that he knows where everything is and what I mean when I say "crack a little pepper into that" (what's "little," right?).

                                      Our friends say watching us in the kitchen is simultaneously amusing and scary because there's hardly any talking, just a lot of half sentences and tandem cooking getting done seemingly magically.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Pei

                                        that's cool. btw i love your blog!

                                      2. Mme ZoeZ is a marvellous cook and we usually cook together but she is a 'presenter' with dishes - they always look as though they are plated by some professional. Wonderful to see. I love cooking and creating but the most fun is doing it together - honed after almost 25 years of togetherness, its a tango - in tune and usually a good performance. Right now we are in our Indian phase and a slow cooker phase (the latter because I got sick of cold food in this eternal summer of abysmal heat and enjoyed making dishes without heating up the kitchen or rushing out to the outdoor grill.

                                        1. My SO and I met indirectly because of Chowhound and our love to cook!! :)

                                          But just like there are different breeds of chowhound, we are two different types of cooks.

                                          He claims he dislikes cooking. I adore it no matter what situation. He's a bit more by the book. I take it loose and fast. He's into doing BIG projects, bread baking, dinner parties. I'm into the little things like cookies and dinner for two. Because of these differences, most of the everyday dinner duties fall to me. Although I consider him the better cook of the pair.

                                          I am SO glad he's a great cook though. It helps in keeping the kitchen neat and in prep when I make dinner. I can always ask him to chop an onion just SO and he does it without a fuss. It also helps that he knows exactly how much work and care it takes to make the simplest of meal, so he REALLY appreciates it and he also is not shy about giving feedback.


                                          1. If I'm cooking I usually don't want someone looking over my shoulder offering editorial comment. I can co-cook if someone is clearly in charge and the other is the sous-chef. My mother and I split tasks so we didn't have to overlap cooking/prep space or dishes. That kept everything peaceful and smooth.

                                            DH is a wonderful cleaner-upper, he scrubs the stove and counter tops to a mirror finish and puts every single utensil, pan and plate away. It's the most tedious part of cooking for me, so I'm very grateful to him for taking it on.

                                            This arrangement works perfectly for us, given my compulsive nature and his laid-back one.

                                            1. I would LOVE it if my husband would cook more but it is just not his thing. I am OK with being the chief cook, the menu planner and grocery shopper because I am good at it and enjoy it. He doesn't enjoy it and isn't very knowledgable. When he does tell me he will cook to 'give me a break in the kitchen' I get a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know what is coming: he will make a meal, but he will CONSTANTLY be badgering me with questions, so much so that it is almost like I am cooking anyway. It is not 'a break' like he likes to think it is. I have to get out of the room, go outside or up into the bedroom to get far enough away from him that it is inconvenient for him to constantly be talking to me. And his repertoire is so limited that I simply don't want him to make anything very often. He is, however, a TERRIFIC cleaner and will wordlessly tackle any mound of dishes I generate, as he always says that a dirty kitchen is worse than cleaning one up. I try to clean as I go to eliminate this, but sometimes get caught up and can't manage. I adore him to death, just not for his cooking skills. If that was an important aspect of our relationship I likely would have never married him but it's not. We work well together because we balance each other perfectly. And we both love to eat the same kinds of food which is a wonderful thing as well.

                                              I would, honestly, love it if he was a good cook as I would love to share those times with someone who appreciates the nuances of cooking, the coming together of a meal and the passion of making something delicious. He is not even interested in learning, so don't suggest that. To me, it would be a wonderful added intimacy to a relationship to create something memorable in the kitchen together. But I can't covet what I don't have, and what I have is wonderful as it is.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: cooknKate

                                                i think someone that is a terrific cleaner is a find in itself. like you said it's a balance, and there's no competition!

                                                1. re: fara

                                                  The nice thing is, when I am busy in the kitchen and he stops by to see what I am doing, I know he is finding it incredibly sexy to watch me, and that is DEFINITELY a plus!! ;-)

                                              2. I have always been with people (my Sainted Mother(tm) and Father-unit worked well together, as did both sets of grandparents, all uncles and aunts, and pre-weddedbliss girlfriends) that enjoyed working the kitchen together. I have always enjoyed cooking and tinkering with foods and [almost] enjoy others' opinions while I'm working. Our kitchen is the hub of all conversations during holidaze and any random gatherings.

                                                I've only banned one person from my kitchen because he didn't just comment, he'd sabotage dishes. The Capsican Queen never thought the food we served ever had enough kick so he'd sneak heat into the most simple dishes. After making two dishes virtually inedible, I told him to stay the heck out and park himself where he could talk to us but never get near any boiling pots or sizzling pans. His boyfriend promised to help keep him planted in place.

                                                1. I believe it is great if both the guy and girl in a relationship cook together. I love to share my kitchens past and present working together to create a meal. I cooked in restaurants for 10+ years from grill cook, broiler cook, prep,etc.. so I have excellent knife skills, and know how to pull a meal all together, and I love to teach my wife some of these skills. Our kitchen is also the hub of the house, so when we built the house we made it the size we wanted, and equipped to allow us to not be limited in what we want to make.

                                                  1. Thanks to all you posters from the last day especially! You have made me laugh out loud. So now husband wants to know what is so funny, but I can't explain through the tears and hysterics!

                                                    Of course he will never understand the humor either.

                                                    God bless, he'll eat anything I cook, and so I experiment on him all the time. Mostly hits, but also misses too.

                                                    One last note - when I first met him and asked if he if cooked - his answer very proudly was yes, Rice a Roni!

                                                    Still wants it to this day on occassion, and yes I do make it for him. Hey.

                                                    1. My husband can't cook at all. He sure can eat though. He enjoys everything I prepare and has no issues cleaning up.

                                                      I'd love him to learn. I know he can make some things, it's just that he isn't good at them. I've tried to gently guide him into understanding where he is going wrong, but he likes how it comes out for his personal tastes, can't seem to realize, for example, that not everyone else likes rubbery, brown, scrambled eggs LOL.

                                                      I feel bad when he offers to make me something, but I always have to politely decline because past experience has already proved it will be a disaster, and his feelings will only get hurt in the process.


                                                      But all in all, this works well for us since, I really do love cooking and more so, cooking for him. And for the most part, I don't enjoy having others in the kitchen with me. There are very few people I can tolerate having there with me, only my siblings, my SIL and a couple of very close friends. They are the only ones I can trust, since they are all good cooks and good helpers too.

                                                      1. I do most of the cooking, well, OK ALL the cooking but that's mostly because I love to do so and it's my relaxing time after work. Having said that, I do enjoy having DH in the kitchen with me, and even cut out a little saying and taped it to the refrig. "Just because someone doesn't do things the way you would do, doesn't make it the wrong way." or something to that effect. So, I ask him to make salad or cut something for me or this or that, and I think it is a good exercise for me to stop myself from jumping in to "correct," as I can be a control freak - and that way we get to spend some extra time together in those precious few hours between work and sleep.

                                                        1. Our need to cook together is so great we're about to break ground on a $30k addition that will be our new kitchen. Two large people in a tiny galley kitchen just won't cut it for us anymore!

                                                          1. My boyfriend and I share the cooking responsbilities and I think it is a very good thing to do so. We both have slightly different tastes in the fact that he likes a number of vegetables that I don't fancy. Still, by having him cook, I am opened up to more foods that I know are good for me.

                                                            1. I am so excited. After spending a week in Dubai I come home after 24 hours of travelling and the house smells amazing. I get to the kitchen and my wife (she's been real busy and lost interest in cooking 7 years ago) got inspired and there was a pot of fresh red gravy, apple crumb pie almost cooked in one oven and lemon chicken was well on its way in the other oven. What a feast. She looked at me and said I wanted the house to smell like you love when you got home. The next morning she's making me a ham, egg and cheese on an onion roll for breakfast and her special double-strength coffee.

                                                              Then she tells me she wants to get back into cooking and we should plan on some sundays cooking together. Her only request from me was to let her creativity control her and for me not to have so many rules. That's an easy trade for me.

                                                              After the holidays and my next trip around the world we're going to do some serious cooking. :-)))))

                                                              1. I'm a guy and most nights I do the cooking and my girl cleans. This works for us most of the time. She loves my food and I try to keep the mess minimal and clean as I go. She'll help with some prep work but that's about it.

                                                                We've tried to make dishes together and we end up frustrating each other. She might say the same thing, but I am more open to her suggestions and more flexible. That may come from the fact that I have more cooking experience, but it drives me nuts when I let her change something I'm making, only to have her get upset when I make a suggestion about something she does another time - she doesn't have the same confidence in what she's doing, so there's no parity in accepting suggestions.

                                                                One thing that is also frustrating is when she expects me to come home fired up to cook whatever inspired her at the market. The process of getting stoked on ingredients and then going home and making it happen can't really be broken up, at least not in my experience - not without better communication anyway.