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Cheatham, who is known for her elevated Southern cuisine, wisely left the rest of the menu preparation to the chef at Degas House, the site of the wedding (although “I kept feeling like I should be working,” she says.). Inspired by the flavors of New Orleans, one her favorite food cities, the couple and their 60 guests feasted on a variety of traditional Southern creole dishes , including an oyster station, a shrimp cocktail station, and Cheatham’s favorite dish: a subtly spicy vegetable creole stew. The couple first met in 2015 at a wine bar in Harlem, New York after one of Cheatham’s 16-hour shifts in the kitchen. At first, she says she wasn’t interested in talking to Bailey, CEO and founder of ExecOnline, because she was “in a bad mood”—but once she finished her first glass of wine and the bartender nudged her to shake off the work day and talk to him, the pair hit it off. However, a few weeks after they met, Cheatham moved to Bermuda to help Marcus Samuelsson open a restaurant on the island. The pair fell out of touch, but, when the chef moved back to New York three months later, Bailey texted her to reconnect and asked her to dinner—and they’ve been together ever since. RELATED: Bravo Reveals the Filming Location for the Next Season of Top Chef While visiting the Willamette Valley in Oregon last summer—just a few weeks after Cheatham finished filming Top Chef —Bailey, 38, surprised the chef and popped the question. Overlooking the vineyard at the Domaine Serene winery, Bailey got down on one knee, holding a square cut diamond ring with a platinum band, and proposed. “Even though it was a complete surprise and I had zero input on it, he got the perfect ring,” she says. “It’s a little on the larger side than what I would have expected. I was like, ‘damn, this is big!’ but it’s beautiful.” As for their wedding day, Cheatham said that despite being “super stressed” leading up to ceremony everything came together as planned—and that kissing her soon-to-be husband was all she could think about. RELATED: Padma Lakshmi Says Her Post-Top Chef Detox Diet Is ‘More Relaxed Now’: ‘I Don’t Care As Much’ “It’s weird because you’re standing there looking at this person that you’ve known for so long, and the priest is saying all these beautiful things about love and relationships, and it’s all kind of serious, but this is somebody that I know,” Cheatham says. “We sit on the couch and watch HGTV and we joke and laugh all the time. It was a really beautiful ceremony, but I was just like, “can I just kiss him now?'” Cheatham says that wedding planning helped keep her busy after filming Top Chef because no one knew she had gone on the show aside from family and a few close friends. “We were living this weird kind of life where you know you filmed this TV show, and you know it’s going to air eventually but nobody else knows.” Want the ultimate dish on the latest celebrity food news, plus exclusive recipes, videos and more? Click here to subscribe to the People Food newsletter. Now that Top Chef has aired, Cheatham has launched a pop-up dinner series in Harlem, which she plans to expand to other cities, including executing a possible collaboration with her season’s winner, Joe Flamm, in Chicago.
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