Well here we have it! The start of our much anticipated interview series entitled “I Am Chef Wife Chic”. Our first interviewee? None other than Mrs. Kerilyn Russo, herself, the founder of Marriedtoachef.com and wife of Peter Russo, the Executive Chef at Chef Geoffs in Tysons Corner, Virginia! Read on as Kerilyn reveals her inspiration for helping significant others, her need for independence, and her approach to personal style.
CWC: Hello Kerilyn and welcome to ChefWifeChic.com! Please tell our readers a little more about yourself.
KR: Well Hello there! Oh my goodness I am HONORED to be asked to participate in your interview series!!! A little about me, first off you must know I’m a chatty Cathy! My name is Kerilyn (pronounced like two words, said together); I live 15 minutes outside Washington, DC in Virginia with my chef husband of 3+ years, and my 17yr old kitty girl who is my heart. Trust me, I can go on and on so I’ll stop right there. =)
CWC: Being a Chef Wife myself, I must say that Marriedtoachef.com is an excellent resource for those “married to the hospitality industry”. Tell us how and why you came up with such an excellent idea.
KR: Thank you for the wonderful compliment! Marriedtoachef.com came about as a result of an argument I was having with my then chef fiancée, on none other than the busiest day of the restaurant year… Valentine’s Day. I knew he wasn’t going to be available, but I wanted to feel important so I caused an argument. In that argument, I asked him to ask one of his guy chef friends how they managed to be married in this industry and my husband, a man of few words poignantly said “Why don’t you ask his wife?” I was stopped in my tracks as I thought “Yes! Why didn’t I think of that?” and began a flurried search for support. After not quite finding what I was looking for (the ability to actually connect with someone) I decided to create it myself!
CWC: Well, it looks like that was one argument with a positive outcome! Are you currently a practicing Life Coach or is it strictly through your website? If you do have a practice, tell us a little about the services you offer.
KR: Great question! I am a certified life coach and am able to coach anyone around anything. You see… coaching takes a person from where they ARE (in their life, their struggles, their dreams) to where they want to be. Simple!
I focus on coaching my fellow significant others, who are also connected to the restaurant industry, because I know what they are going through and are able to understand what might prevent them from getting to where they ultimately want to be.
It’s better than talking to a good girlfriend because for as long as we talk on the phone… I am 100% focused on you. It is my job to stand by your side to help you find ways to move forward in your life. Honestly, it’s what I feel my life’s purpose is.
See more about what I offer here.
CWC: How do you manage being a wife to a professional chef and juggle your own career as well?
KR: That’s easy! I really do understand what my values are. If I were honest, it took me a while to understand what they were but once I did… they FREED me to understand that I DID have what it took to THRIVE in my restaurant relationship! For instance, I understand that my husband and I value our INDEPENDENCE above all, you have to want to be independent in order to not always feel like you are alone in this type of relationship, and in turn it gives you the freedom to work on your own dreams and desires!
CWC: I see that you have a degree in Interior Design. This is a form of styling. Do you have any skills or interest in fashion styling?
I would consider myself a closet stylist. I LOVE watching shows about style, remember getting a subscription to Vogue as a teenager, but I never felt like it was the right industry for me. Though I have admired it longingly from afar.
CWC: With that being said, would you call yourself a stylish person?
KR: Um, in my own way yes. Admittedly, I have always felt a bit like the odd man out when it came to fashion and style. Being a tall girl at an early age (I was 5’10 in 6th grade) I didn’t really fit into the latest trends in fashion, so I had to learn to find my own way to make my style work for me. Not always an easy experience growing up but I can say that out of those challenging moments, it really showed me what my preferences are for myself. I honestly have become quite protective of what I’d say my style is, a mix of a little bohemian with a touch of sophistication and a splash of girly ballerina.
CWC: I definitely can understand your plight as a tall person myself (5’11”). It can be difficult finding the right fit in stylish clothing. Tell us how you would describe your daily style.
KR: Two things happen when I choose my daily style… I either pick a neutral palate in my clothes but accentuate it with something colorful (bracelets, earrings, scarf, hat) as an accent, or I pick one piece of colored clothing with a pattern or stripe, to really keep things fun. It’s more about the message I’m sending, and less about a particular brand, designer, etc…
Oh and I prefer skirts and dresses over pants and shorts any day. As a tall woman, finding the right length pant can absolutely be aggravating, so I tend to find more freedom (and less stress) if I stick with a dress or skirt.
CWC: Yes I agree. Maxi skirts are my fav! Personal style has always been something I have been very interested in. Is fashion and style important to you?
KR: It is actually. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received, was when a principal of a design firm I was interviewing at said, as he was looking at my portfolio, he said “Your portfolio has to speak without you. That stuck with me. Everything I do, whether it be my personal fashion style, or how I design my home, has to speak without me. It has to tell a story of who I am, without me saying a word. I find it exciting to find the style that speaks volumes about who I am, without me even saying a thing. I hope that makes sense. =)
CWC: Perfect sense! That is great advice for our readers. Thank you! Do you think it would be more of a focus if your husband was in a different career?
KR: Most likely. I’m sure if he was a lawyer or in an Executive role, I’m sure that it would alter my design choices. I definitely would see myself finding a way to a wardrobe full of pencil skirts and tailored jackets.
CWC: How does your role as the wife of a man with a professional career affect your clothing choices? How has your husband’s success in his career changed your wardrobe?
KR: Over the past three years, both with my husband’s success and in the creation of my own mission and purpose, I have had to take a good hard look at where I feel my style lacks in its cohesiveness, and gradually weed out the pieces that no longer serve me in my mission.
As Marriedtoachef.com grows in its success, so does my desire to increase the breath of my wardrobe. I’m a thrifty person meaning I look for a good bargain but I also know the value in a nice piece as an investment. I’m excited to really expand the contents of my closet in the upcoming months, as a way of expressing my message.
CWC: I am actually in the process of doing the same because I find myself having to attend various ACF dinners and company functions with the hubby now that he is a Sous Chef. Do you attend many professional events with your significant other? If so, what type are the most frequent and how do you dress for them?
KR: Interestingly, I attend more functions with my fellow significant others than I do with my husband. As I’m sure you know full well, he is usually either working an event or busy working at the restaurant, so I know if I want to go to an event, I usually have to find a date of my own to go with. Thankfully I have a handful of great girlfriends who are also married to chefs, to be my plus one. (+1)
CWC: Being that you have such a great sense of style, I can imagine that your wedding was beautiful. Describe your wedding for our readers.
KR: Our wedding was the perfect combination of who my husband and I are. We both focused on the few things that were really important to us, and were able to really let go of the rest, it really helped us enjoy our experience so much more!
I feel lucky. I saw my dress in a bridal magazine, at Macys Bridal Salon. I went to look for it, and found one very similar and fell in love (You know… that “You just know” moment) all by myself. I found my dress on the first try. Strapless, very simple, very flowy.
(CWC Note: Kerilyn and Peter’s wedding was featured in the Washington Post! Read here.)
CWC: You looked absolutely beautiful! And to find your dress on the first try … KUDOS! Now how you would describe your husband’s style?
KR: Most days, my husband’s style is casual. Work is chef pants and clogs and his days off he’s in jeans and a Harley t-shirt while he enjoys riding his motorcycle with a few other chefs in the area. He does love an occasion to dress up and when he does, it’s a nice sweater with a collared shirt underneath and slacks, or a 3 piece suit. Love a man wearing a 3 piece suit!
CWC: I do too! Va va voom! HaHa! Being that you know what you like to see your man in, do you do the shopping for his wardrobe?
KR: Not his casual one, but I’m usually with him when he’s out to find attire for a special occasion. I just love it when he gets dressed up.
CWC: Yes, that is when my Chef is looking his best as well! Sometimes I select his outfits when we are ‘stepping out’. Do you ever pick out your Chef’s outfits?
KR: Not really, although I’ve told him I like the look of a sweater with a collared shirt underneath, and I love it when I find him wearing that on his own accord. Nice to know he listens to what I like to see him in.
CWC: Awww, Go Chef! What is your favorite go-to attire for the rare date night with the hubby?
KR: My go to is always going to be a dress. I prefer the convenience and diversity that a dress brings. In the winter, it’s a dress with tights and a sweater, and in the summer it’s a dress with my favorite pair of flats or sandals.
CWC: I’m a stay at home mom so I sometimes find myself in sweatpants when the hubby is working long hours of overtime but make sure to ‘doll up’ a bit when I know he is off. Do you find that you dress better when you know your significant other is going to be home?
KR: Maybe a little? Not something I was even conscious of but now that you mention it, I think I probably step it up a little more when I know he’s going to be around. That said, he’s my husband and he loves me the way I am so I know even if I’m lounging around the house, he’s happy just the same.
CWC: Even so, is there a particular type of clothing that he likes to see you in?
KR: Absolutely. He would love to see me in clothes that accentuate the girls. If you know what I mean.
CWC: HaHaHa! Yes I definitely know what you mean! My hubby has a fondness for the posterior area. It seems like you have a great outlook on personal style and know exactly what works for you. Do you have any styling tips or beauty secrets to share with your fellow Chef Wives?
KR: The more you know who you are INSIDE… the more you can translate that to a style that speaks without you having to, and in doing that, feel like you’re walking around being the most authentic version of yourself that you can be!
CWC: Great tip! In closing, tell us what being “Chef Wife Chic” means to you.
KR: Chef Wife Chic is a woman comfortable standing on her own. We know that our restaurant men and women are not always going to be there, to accompany us to every aspect of our lives, so our style needs to be like a partner of sorts, making us feel confident and independent and able to step forward knowing that even if our other half isn’t with us, we are still solid knowing that we are just of worthy of all the good stuff that life brings!
CWC: Well Said! Thank you, Kerilyn, for a great interview! We at ChefWifeChic.com wish you and your husband all the success in the world.
KR: Oh thank YOU for the opportunity to talk about a topic I don’t discuss very often! I too, wish you all the success on your plight, not just as a fellow significant other, but on your own journey to create the life of your dreams! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you!
CWC: You are so welcome and again thank you so much, Kerilyn! We are looking forward to staying in touch!