Culinary couple finds recipe for love

Maggie Calabash and Derek Smith may have met online, but their love story really began in the kitchen.

Calabash spent decades as a chef. She ran a restaurant in France, wrote a syndicated cooking column that once appeared in nearly 60 newspapers, and hosted a culinary call-in radio show called Pass the Mustard.

Smith had enjoyed a long career in television, including creating and producing Celebrity Cooks, a show that was hosted by late Beachcombers star Bruno Gerussi and ran on Canadian television from 1975 until 1987.

Curiously, when they met on in 2017, neither of their dating profiles mentioned their culinary histories.

“How bizarre can you get?” Calabash asked on CBC Radio’s All In A Day. “I mean, it blows the mind.”

They had something else in common, Smith said.

“I was lonely, and Maggie was lonely,” he said. “We met, we spent an hour together, and two months later we decided to buy a house in Merrickville and move in together!”

‘Life is great’

Smith had been living in Ottawa and Calabash was in Carleton Place, Ont., where she was the cooking school coordinator at a local grocery store.

She soon discovered Smith’s expertise was somewhat limited to the production side of things.

“He’s an absolute philistine when it comes to food!” she joked. “[But] he’s a fantastic support. And life is great. Life is good.”

“Maggie’s 76 and I’m 75,” Smith added. “It just goes to show you that really good stuff can happen when you’re older.

Online show debuts Friday

Now they’re putting the finishing touches on Mrs. Calabash Cooks, which will livestream its first episode on Facebook, YouTube and Periscope on Friday.

In putting the show together, Calabash has bid adieu to her haute cuisine past, focusing instead on the kinds of meals that will appeal to busy families, like the recipe below.

“Those days have gone. Nobody has the time. People are looking for something that’s quick, easy, nutritious, not too expensive, and they can get on the table,” she said.

“Put it on, cook it whilst people are talking in the kitchen, have a glass of wine — and go and sit down and eat.”

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