Sean and Nicole
How We Met
It was a cold November Friday night at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. My classmates and I just finished working dinner service at Ra.Me, the ramen concept we were running at the Innovation Kitchen in the intrapreneurship concentration. We headed towards our cozy townhouses (Point 6, to be exact) and had a party. When it was winding down and I was getting ready to leave, there she was: standing by the door, staring at us with beautiful hazel eyes, wearing a soft basil green sweater and light caramel brown slacks just tight enough to show off her curves. Her curly hair flowed with the cold wind that blew in the floral scent of the girl who stole my heart ever since that moment. I sat back down with the hopes of getting to know her better. Her name was Nicole Carey, she came from St. Louis, MO, and she was in the wine’s concentration. She had this amazing laugh that just made my heart smile every time I heard it. I knew I had to make her mine.
The rest of the night consisted of us laughing at each other’s jokes. No one else thought we were funny, but that didn’t matter, We were happy. The night ended with our wishing each other goodnight and hoping to see each other on campus more often.
The next time we met, it was November 18, 2017. I was at the gym stretching and then, there she was, barely breaking a sweat after her usual four-mile run. She walked up and started talking to me, and then blindsided me with, “Would you like to go out to dinner with me tonight?”. I was completely stunned. In my mind, I was thinking that she wanted to just check out a restaurant as friends; as a fellow CIA student. Of course, I said yes, but it wasn’t until the end of the meal that I discovered it was officially a date. She asked if we should share a dessert and I said, “Only if you’re okay with sharing my cooties.” She said, “It is a date, after all.”
Needless to say, our first date was successful and they haven’t stopped since. After we both graduated with our bachelor’s degrees, we moved to Chicago, IL to start our culinary journey together. We plan on opening up our own restaurant in Lincoln Park by mid-2020. We have a four-year-old fur baby (the cutest Schnauzer you will ever meet) named Frank Sinatra. It was only a matter of time until I turned my “date” from that Friday night into my “mate”…
How They Asked
It all started about a year ago on November 22, 2018. I asked Nicole’s father for his blessing on Thanksgiving (his favorite holiday). Once he shook my hand and gave me a huge hug welcoming me to the family, I started planning the greatest proposal I could ever give to my soon to be Wife…
Nicole has two best friends living in Europe. One in Argentina, and the other in Spain. I wanted to fly them out along with her best friend from St.Louis to make our special moment even more memorable. It was tough predicting the time frame of the foliage and the weather one year in advance but I had faith it will play out exactly as I planned it.
We were living in Texas at the time and my sister Katie who lives in NJ gave me the idea of a secret plan we can try to convince Nicole to have us come up to the proposal site which was in NY. The secret plan was this; It was close to my brother in law’s birthday and she planned a surprise party for him. She had already bought the plane tickets, made the reservations, and planned the surprise so all we had to do was get up there. She did leave one day free for us to spend however we chose which would lead us into the actual plan.
Nicole was sold! She had a tiny little bit of a hunch because I always speak to her in English but during the phone call, I talked mostly in Korean (to guide her on what to tell Nicole).
In the meantime, we picked out and purchased the most gorgeous diamond ring from Kim’s Jewelry in New York. I was very fortunate to have my whole family involved in this process.
First, my brother in law provided me with a connection to the owner who is a client of his Law Firm. Secondly, with me being in Texas and the shop being in New York, I couldn’t physically see the diamonds. My sister helped out from picking out the perfect diamond to designing the most elegant ring made for Nicole. Lastly, my mom who helped with the contribution toward the ring made it possible for me to propose with a ring I could’ve only dreamt of.
Fast forward to October 17, 2019, the day of the proposal. My mom, uncle, Nicole, and I arrived at my sister’s place the night before. Nicole and I left the next day and took an Amtrak from Penn Station to Poughkeepsie. The train ride couldn’t have been more beautiful. The trees showing off its fall colors foreshadowing what is to come. We get to the Vanderbilt Mansion and by this time, the girls are in position ready for the photographer’s cue. It had been raining all morning and afternoon but during that hour, around sunset, it stops raining and a little ray of sunshine starts peaking out of the clouds. We walk towards the bench next to the Vanderbilt Overlook and a “random photographer” offers to take our pictures. She’s shooting for the Hudson Valley Magazine she says. Even I was sold.
I started playing “A Thousand Years”, by Christina Perry and I held both of her hands. I began saying, “Nicole Sara Carey, I loved you for three years and I’m ready to love you for a thousand years more. You make me want to commit to something more than life, which is our Love. I want to be not only a business partner with you, but a partner for life.” Then I got down to one knee and said, “Will you marry me?”. She said yes and started sobbing. When the photographer cued the girls to come out, Nicole started bawling and couldn’t believe her eyes. It was truly a magical moment. So relieved to have every single part of my plan successfully come to life and reminded myself that with enough faith, anything is possible.
Later that evening, we went to The Bocuse Restaurant in The Culinary Institute of America (where we first met) and have an amazing dinner catching up with everyone.
I still had one more surprise up my sleeve. The next day, we go down to Manhattan with plans to eat around the city until we explode. We arrive at Jean-George’s where I used to work during school for our dinner reservation. After checking in, we head over to the bar and the girls start bawling again once they see Nicole’s parents waiting for them there. Another successful surprise. The next day, we all went back to my sisters’ place and I cooked Steak au Poivre (Nicole’s dad’s favorite steak) for everyone and had a lovely family gathering for the first time.
We continued to have the best weekend with everyone having a culinary journey through New York eating Neapolitan pizza at Inatteso Pizza Bar, tonkotsu ramen at Ichiran, import mix sandwich at Rossi’s, matcha crepe cakes at Lady M, lox and bagels at Russ and Daughters, lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster, hojicha latte at Blue Bottle, porterhouse steak at Carmine’s and last but not least a NY hot dog at a Hot Dog Stand.
I couldn’t have asked for more. From the girls arriving safely and on time from their flights to the last minute adjustment of the weather during the proposal, the whole trip couldn’t have gone better. Truly blessed and humbled to share and witness a moment like this.
I love you, My Fiancé, Nicole Carey!