How MV couples who work together stay together

Originally posted on Feb. 4, 2014.


Prudence Athearn-Levy and Josh Levy

What do we cook for each other to celebrate?
When we want to cook up a treat, it is usually breakfast. We both love big, healthy and hearty breakfasts. This always involves eggs, most likely 2 over-easy farm eggs with lots of sauteed fresh-picked greens (either from our garden or winter greenhouse, or from Morning Glory Farm fields or winter greenhouse), beans and/or sweet potatoes, spicy peppers like poblanos (that we roast and freeze in the summer to use all winter), cilantro from our greenhouse and sometimes avocado on top. Josh gets his with salsa and/or hot sauce (our own salsa in the summer, or Mr. G’s hot sauce all year). On the side of the plate we’ll arrange fresh fruit- berries and/or melon in the summer, and Florida oranges or pears in the winter.

Any advice on running a business together?
The most important thing to us, in business and at home, is communication. We would also say always stay humble and learn from each other every day. Be true partners, both at work and home. Support each other and determine business goals clearly and together. Have a business plan — approach your business as a business and always set work and home boundaries (i.e. bringing work home is fine, but limit the amount of time you do work together at home — unless you work from home — so that you can focus on each other and family when you are home, and work when you are at work). Finally, divide the work! Each person doesn’t need to know every little detail of your work, as long as you keep each other informed and stay equal partners in decision making. Use your strengths and specialize or focus in a few areas that complement those of your spouse. Emphasize, encourage, and highlight each of your strengths and use them to your advantage to build a better business, and in our case, to serve our clients and community better.

Prudence Athearn and Josh Levy own Vineyard Nutrition.

Pete and Jenifer Smyth

Chef Smyth with his wife, Jenifer, and daughters Jocelyn, left, and Shealyn. Chef Smyth with his wife, Jenifer, and daughters Jocelyn, left, and Shealyn.

What do you cook for a romantic evening with your wife?
(Laughs) We have two kids – there’s no romantic evenings. But I have to say that the thing I like to make if Jen and I are at home and don’t have the kids, is paella. That was the first dish I made for her when we had our first real dinner date at my apartment.

Pete’s Paella

2 lbs. chicken thighs, skin on and cut into small pieces
1/2 lb. chicken sausage sliced thin
1/2 lb. chorizo or spicy sausage
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 lb. mussels cleaned
2 cups of short grain white rice
1 onion diced
1 tomato diced
1 red pepper
2 teaspoons of oregano
1 pinch of saffron
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of thyme chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 bunch parsley chopped (reserve some for later)
2 lemon zest (reserving one lemon for later)
1 qt. chicken stock
4 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Lg skillet or paella pan
Reserved for later: 1 cup of peas

1. Heat two Tablespoons of olive oil in pan.
2. Salt and pepper chicken and let rest.
3. Add sausage to pan and lightly brown and drain saving oil.
4. Add chicken and brown well making skin crispy. Remove chicken and wipe pan.
5. Add two more Tablespoons of oil and cook vegetables and garlic lightly.
6. Add dry herbs, lemon zest, saffron and rice cooking lightly.
7. Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.
8. Bring to a boil and skim any stuff floating on top.
9. Cook for 5 minutes and stir rice well.
10. Add chicken and sausage and cook lightly for five minutes, skimming any thing from top of pan.
11. Cook on low to medium heat for about ten minutes.
12. Add mussels and shrimp making sure to push in rice mixture.
13. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, taste and season mixture with salt and pepper and a little heat
14. Shut off if rice is done and mussels are open. Fold in peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
15. Squeeze fresh lemon on top and add the rest of the parsley

This is close to what I made my wife for the first time. I unfortunately have an allergy to peppers so I had to alter it for me. This recipe is the one I use at Slice the couple of times I have made it.
– Pete Smyth, owner, with his wife Jenifer, of Slice of Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs.

Jim and Debbie Athearn

What’s your idea of the Perfect Date on MV?
Jim: Dinner at Outermost Inn or Beach Plum inn and a night in a friend’s
Chilmark camp.
Debbie: Dinner on the beach and sleep out overnight in the dunes.

What do you cook for your sweetie as a treat?
Debbie: for Jim, carrot cake.

Debbie and Jim Athearn say their idea of the perfect MV date includes The Beach Plum or Outermost Inn, and sleeping in the dunes. Debbie and Jim Athearn say their idea of the perfect MV date includes The Beach Plum or Outermost Inn, and sleeping in the dunes.

How do you stay in business when you live with your partner?
We had identical responses. Divide the business responsibilities so each
knows who is in charge of each area, then defer completely to the authority
of the person in charge. Also, enjoy your mutual interest. When we are on
vacation we love to talk about business, say, on the highway. It’s interesting and we don’t need to deny ourselves that because we are on vacation.

Jim and Debbie Athearn run Morning Glory Farm.