Tavis and Sarah Rockwell met in the kitchen: He was a line cook, she, a pastry chef. Eight years later, they approach their fourth wedding anniversary. Tavis is now Executive Chef of Louisville’s LouVino Restaurant, a prospering Southern-style, culinary inspiration, while Sarah serves as his Chef De Cuisine.
LouVino Restaurant’s three locations are stand-out successes
in a vibrant food scene of young, independent up-and-comers.
With a menu committed to robust flavors, small plates, and local ingredients, Chefs Tavis and Sarah sat down with CW Magazine to discuss their many collaborations and the rewards and challenges of being married in the restaurant industry.
85% of LouVino’s patrons are women. Why?
TAVIS: It’s a treat to come to LouVino. We’re centralized
by wine, and for whatever the reasons may be, womenlove wine.
SARAH: Well, if you have a place centralized around beer it will pull more men in; not that there’s not people on both sides of the gender spectrum that can appeal to both. And women are attracted to the smaller plates and the sharing. 4 or 5 women might get 10 plates of food; they’re only getting a few bites of each dish in the end.
Does being a woman affect how you approach being a Chef?
SARAH: Women tend to have a different style in
kitchens. We manage differently. And from a business perspective, we run things differently. And foods appeal to us differently. Tavis tends to go richer, where I like lighter dishes. Women love to partake in richness too, but it’s not something that they are going to do regularly.
The challenges of working with a spouse?
TAVIS: It has its benefits and challenges; we feed off each other and sometimes we butt heads. We drive to work separately. Take separate days off. And we respect each other’s decisions in the work place.
SARAH: The significant other has to understand what’s required of a Chef position: it’s long hours and late nights. A lot of holidays and times you’d expect to be there are just not feasible. Doctors, Lawyers, and Chefs have the highest divorce rates because so often it’s hard to balance. That’s definitely one of the positives, being married and working together: we always understand. We’ve got to be there, and that’s just how it is.
What is your favorite collaboration?
SARAH: Foodwise, my favorite collaboration is our
restaurant in Douglas Hills – it’s been our baby. I had always helped Tavis with recipes, but it was really special to see this restaurant come to life. We were here from the ground breaking, the unwrapping of plates, the hiring, and training. Come June, it will be a year.
TAVIS: I’d say my favorite collaboration with Sarah is our James Beard House Dinner. We were invited to New York the year before we got married, side-by-side, probably the first real dinner we did together. We represented ourselves and the city of Louisville well. It was challenging, hectic, filled with local ingredients, and we pulled it off. It was a success. It was rewarding.
What have you learned from each other?
TAVIS: Anything I know about pastry, I know from Sarah. I married a classically trained pastry chef. With Sarah, she can do a 4-tiered wedding cake while making a pasta sauce. It’s about proper measurements and techniques.
it takes time and patience.