Platelist: Todd English on Valentine's Day

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There's a simple test for whether a restaurant's working, said English: Are the clients enjoying themselves?

"There's a sense that [diners are] having a good time, and that's what it's always been about for me," the chef said. "I don't want people sitting in their suit and tie in a stiff eating experience around the table. It's about rolling up your sleeves. I think I get this from my Italian side or even working in Italy for awhile. It is about relaxing and enjoying yourself and letting your guard down. Have a glass of wine and chill out and relax don't worry about it. That, to me, is how I judge if I'm accomplishing the goals that I want to accomplish, and that's what it's about."

For all his professional success, there is one goal, English said, that still is out of reach.

"I have a lot of restaurants," English said, "and I keep thinking I can just have that one restaurant and have eight tables that I open up twice a week and that's it, and not run around the country with my head cut off trying to keep everything going and ... um, be careful what you wish for."

A final question, once more Cupid-related: We asked English about his reputation as a babe magnet.

"It's funny, because I don't think of myself that way," English said. "It's about more of what I do, and that's the allure of it to me. I think cooking is sexy when it's done right. There's this English chef I love who sucks her finger when she's tasting something, and I think that's so sexy. So I think it's more about what I do than me.

"And I will always profess that when you cook from your heart and not your head, that's when it's best."

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