Compliments of the Chef: Valentine’s Day Brunch Recipes from The Experts


February 4, 2024

Kacey Perez

In the spirit of the anti-cliche during obligatory occasions such as Valentine’s Day, we found ourselves deep in thought about what could truly make the day special – in our opinion. All things considered, we decided there was really nothing better than dining out and enjoying a meal prepared by a talented chef alongside a spectacular cocktail. What could make this better? Bringing that experience home, if that’s your thing. Lucky for you, a few talented chefs from popular restaurants in Chicago shared what they envision serving their beloveds on this day of love and indulgence – a perfect roundup for Valentine’s Day brunch.

From the chic rooftop haven of Cindy’s Rooftop, Executive Chef Kaleena Bliss shares her vision of culinary romance with a Crab and Lobster Salad that’s as exquisite as it is tantalizing. Picture succulent king crab and lobster tail mingling with vibrant citrus segments, crisp cucumber, and a hint of heat from Fresno chile. Drizzled with a zesty Citrus Vinaigrette and served atop a luscious Soy Ginger Aioli, each bite is a symphony of fresh, coastal flavors—a perfect beginning to a day of love.

Meanwhile, over at Sunda New Asian, Executive Chef Mike Morales invites you to embark on a culinary journey with his Pancit Canton—a beloved Filipino dish that embodies the essence of comfort and warmth. Shrimp, pork belly, and lap cheong sausage dance in a flavorful Canton broth, while vibrant vegetables add a burst of color and freshness. A squeeze of lemon imparts a delightful citrusy finish, promising a brunch experience that’s both comforting and invigorating.

For those seeking to elevate their brunch libations, Sunda New Asian presents the Ube Espresso Martini—a cocktail crafted with sophistication and flair. 1800 Reposado Tequila, Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur, and velvety Ube Milk come together in a symphony of indulgent flavors, served up in a coupe glass and garnished with coffee beans. It’s a sip of luxury that promises to enchant and delight.

Rounding off our culinary journey is the elegant simplicity of the White Plains cocktail, a creation from Olio e Piu that embodies the essence of sophistication. Crafted by bartender Tim Williams, this exquisite libation combines Beefeater gin, Dimmi liqueur, Heirloom Pineapple amaro, and a splash of lemon. Served over a large ice cube, it’s the perfect way to toast to love and friendship on this special day.

Valentine’s Day Brunch Recipes

Overhead shot of the Crab and Lobster Salad from Cindy's Rooftop restaurant in Chicago served in a matte black dish for Valentine's Day Brunch.
Crab and Lobster Salad from Cindy’s Rooftop, photographed by Chicago Athletic Association.

Crab and Lobster Salad

From Cindy’s Rooftop, created by Executive Chef Kaleena Bliss

Serves 4

Citrus Vinaigrette:


  • 1 medium shallot, roughly chopped (approximately 4oz)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place shallot, citrus juices, fish sauce in blender and puree until smooth. While still blending, drizzle in the olive oil, creating an emulsion. Season with sale and pepper and serve Valentine’s Day brunch.

Soy Ginger Aioli:


  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Crab and Lobster Salad:

  • 8 ounces cooked king crab, shelled and large chopped
  • 8 ounces cooked lobster tail, shelled and large chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced
  • Segments of 1 orange
  • Segments of 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup scallion, bias cut
  • 1/4 cup mint, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup celery leaves, pulled
  • Furikake, to taste (toasted nori and sesame seasoning)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To Assemble:

  • In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients for the crab and lobster salad. Add enough citrus vinaigrette to coat all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, spoon some of the soy ginger aioli on the bottom. Add the dressed crab and lobster salad on top. Eat and enjoy for Valentine’s Day brunch!
A profile shot of the Pancit Canton dish from Sunda New Asian in Chicago served in a black ceramic oval dish for Valentine's Day brunch.
Pancit Canton from Sunda New Asian. Photo courtesy of Sunda New Asian

Pancit Canton

From Sunda New Asian, created by Executive Chef Mike Morales


  • 1eh     Pancit Noodles
  • 6pcs   Shrimp
  • 4oz     Pork Belly
  • 2oz     Lap Cheong Sausage
  • 8oz     Canton Broth – recipe below
  • 2oz     Oyster Sauce
  • 2oz     Onion Sliced
  • 1oz     Napa Cabbage
  • 1oz     Carrots
  • 3oz     Bok Choy
  • 1oz     Scallions Sliced
  • 1eh     Half lemon
  • 2oz     Canola Oil
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)


  • Place pork belly in the fryer and cook for 5 minutes (until crispy). You can also pan fry the pork belly if you do not have a deep fryer
  • In a hot wok, add canola oil and heat, then add onions and lap cheong sausage and cook (until the oils come out of the sausage)
  • Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes then add the bok choy
  • Add the noodles and canton broth and toss.. cook until some of the liquid gets absorbed
  • Add the napa cabbage and carrots and slowly add the oyster sauce until the noodles get coated
  • Season with salt and pepper and garnish with scallions and a slice of lemon

Canton Broth:

  • 4 cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoon    Oyster Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon     Fish Sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon    Hondashi
  • ½ Tablespoon    Achiote Paste
  • ¼ Tablespoon    Sesame Seed Oil


  • Combine achiote and Hon dashi and bring to a boil.  
  • Once boiling add remaining ingredients and mix to incorporate.
A close up shot of the Ube Espresso Martini from Sunda New Asian.
Ube Espresso Martini from Sunda New Asian. Photo courtesy of Sunda New Asian.

Ube Espresso Martini

From Sunda New Asian – Nashville, Chicago, Tampa


  • 1.50 oz 1800 Reposado Tequila
  • 1 oz Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
  • 1 oz Cold Brew Concentrate
  • 1 oz Ube Milk (Condensed milk, coconut milk, sugar, ube extract)
  • Shaken, served up in a coupe. Garnished with three coffee beans.
A close up shot of the White Plains cocktail from restaurant Olie e Piu in Chicago.
White Plains cocktail from Olie e Piu, photographed by Sandy Noto.

White Plains

From Olio e Piu – New York and Chicago. Created by Bartender, Tim Williams.


  • .75oz Beefeater
  • .75oz Dimmi
  • .75oz Heirloom Pineapple amaro
  • .75oz lemon Add ingredients to shaker.
  • Shake, double strain over large ice cube in a rocks glass