Photo by Tim Gunther

IF YOU'VE EVER WORKED in a kitchen (or read a book by Anthony Bourdain) then you know how lascivious restaurant workers can be. Is there a reason for it? Probably. But that's a question for sociologists (and Anthony Bourdain's psychologist). What we want are the juicy details. The Mercury's Sarah Mirk comes up with the goods.

ADAM SAPPINGTON

Country Cat Dinner House (7937 SE Stark) 408-1414

My wife and I met at Wildwood over at NW 21st and Overton. It was, like, 15 years ago and I was a line cook. I was working there and I come out of the bathroom and there stands my future wife, Jackie, waiting to come into the restroom to change. I looked at her and I said, "Oh my god, you're new!" It was love at first sight. There was total sexual tension as we were cooking, I think a lot of it was transmitted into the food. I was on grill, she was on sauté and you could cut it with a knife. People would come in and just laugh at us oogling and oggling.

I had a lot of respect for the establishment, so I didn't feel like I could bring too much in there. But we had some sexual experiences in that kitchen, I'm not going to lie. That employee bathroom could tell some stories, that's all I'll say.

There's still plenty of sexual tension in the kitchen, baby, even though I'm 10 to 15 years older. We have two kids, a restaurant, and 22 employees. The sexiest food we cook together now is fried chicken. It's the buttermilk and the bathing of the chicken, and dredging it and frying it up; there's just something about fried chicken.

CHRISTOPER ISRAEL

Grüner (527 SW 12th) 241-7163

Three weeks ago, some customers had sex in our bathroom. It was the first time I've heard of that here, but it used to happen at Saucebox a lot. You notice it. People leave the table at the same time and go to the bathroom and don't come out for 20 minutes. Then you knock on the bathroom door and no one answers. It kind of becomes apparent after a while, but you can't really do much. It's not like you're going to call the police or you're going to scold someone or something. It's kind of like, "Good for you."

People are out for a romantic dinner and the combination of food and alcohol fuels furtive love encounters. If it's a date, you're choosing food that maybe has more aphrodisiac effects... foie gras, asparagus.

I think foie gras terrine is pretty sexy, the texture, the combination of flavors; it's kind of magical on the tongue. But I don't go in for bathroom sex. I don't like risk. Not there, anyways.

NAOMI POMEROY

Beast (5425 NE 30th) 841-6968

That big butcher block in Beast, you know, it's about 12 feet long. It's what we serve all the food on. It's radical.

Well, that butcher block has done right by me at some points. I didn't have sex on it! Just made out. Sex would have got the health department there or something.

It was really late, like 3 am, and I just made out on it with my bartender friend. The thrill of making out there is that it's right in front of that giant window. Anyone could walk by! But it's a pretty residential neighborhood and it's 3 am, so of course they probably won't.

We do pretty well for ourselves at Beast, since both of us [Pomeroy and Sous Chef Mika Paredes] are women, and there's not a lot of women in the industry. You know that R. Kelly song, "Sex in the Kitchen"? That's our theme song at Beast. We play it before every dinner. Anything that inspires debauchery inspires us at Beast.

JOHN GORHAM

Toro Bravo (120 NE Russell) 281-4464

My now fiancée, Renee, was floor manager with my ex-wife [at Toro Bravo] back when she was still my wife. That was a bit of a love triangle.

The first time I ever knew I was attracted to Renee, it was her first day working at Paley's [Place] and we all went skinny-dipping in the big pool at Paley's [the owner's] house. I definitely think a lot of crazy things have happened there.

Anyway, we definitely had an attraction. Then, one night, we drank a bottle of wine at my kitchen table and became more than friends. You know what I mean? When [both John's ex-wife and Renee] started working at Toro Bravo and things got really bad, we all joked, "It's official, we're a restaurant now, because we have all the drama restaurants have."

We're throwing a party every day. Toro Bravo is a party, and it's easy to get caught up in your own party sometimes.

RENEE GRAY

Toro Bravo (120 NE Russell) 281-4464

Floor manager and John Gorham's fiancée

I'm sure there's many a tale of front of the house servers falling in love with a chef. I know I've always had a thing for a man that could cook. There's something kind of intriguing about being in love with the guy who's running the show.

The first time I ever really had the thought cross my mind about John, we were doing a photo shoot and we all got in a line and took a group photo. I put my arm around John and I just felt this little buzz of chemistry. Honestly, it scared the shit out of me.

Then fate twisted and turned and landed me in his hot tub. Our romance was such a soap opera. He was married when I started working at Toro Bravo.

It's fun, you know—catching each other's eye across the restaurant is kind of a romantic scenario, sneaking around and stealing a kiss in the walk-in.

We had a code word. We always used to say to each other, "Let's have a catering meeting," which really meant, "Let's sneak away and make out." You try and keep it professional, but it's always fun to lean in the window with a low-cut shirt and say, "Hey chef."

John's the love of my life and we really complete each other. We might need to go have a catering meeting right now.

ALYSSA GREGG

Spints Alehouse (401 NE 28th) 847-2534

I had a friend who's a sous chef in Lake Tahoe get engaged to a wine purveyor. They got engaged pretty quick. It was like a two-week relationship.

A few weeks later he was talking to his friends about the engagement and they say, "You're engaged to Susie? Blowjob Susie?" She gave a lot of blowjobs in the walk-ins when she did her wine deliveries, I guess.

They got married, actually. He was upset that her nickname was Blowjob Susie—but only for a few moments or so.

***

Adam Sappington and his wife Jackie consider this salad “best eaten with your hands, with a hottie and a chilled, crisp rosé on those hot, summery days.” While we agree that’s damn sexy, we mostly like that the recipe includes melons. Get it? Melons?

The Country Cat’s Farmers Market Melon and Herb Salad

1/2 canary melon

1/2 Charentais melon

1/2 red watermelon

3 sprigs fresh marjoram, leaves picked

1 tablespoon salt

Moscato vinegar to taste

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

Method:

Seed and cut all the melons into bite-sized pieces. Place the melon in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, and toss to incorporate. Drizzle moscato vinegar and extra virgin olive oil over the melons and gently mix. Marinate for up to an hour. Right before serving, toss marjoram leaves into the melon salad. Serve family style on a large platter.