THE BLOG
02/07/2014 02:30 pm ET Updated Apr 09, 2014

Valentine's Day Suggestions from 14 of Chicago's Most Creative

1. "My Valentine Days have never been elaborate affairs. We never go out to dinner. Valentine's Day dinners at restaurants are where relationships go to suffer. Too crowded. Too much stress. There are three elements to my Valentine plans.

a. A homemade card. Always. Makes all the difference. Multi-colored construction paper. Red hearts matted over white hearts over more red hearts. A photograph. A line of poetry. An original sentiment.

b. Flowers. Usually a dozen long-stemmed red roses. Don't cheap out on the roses. There are roses, and then there are ROSES. Sometimes, I'll go with a dazzling orchid.

c. Lobster. She loves lobster. I love lobster. And I have skills. Have you ever tried my Porcini Risotto with truffle oil studded with Maine Lobster? Other years a simple Boothbay Harbor Lobster Roll with a thimble of minced red onion, a touch of rice wine vinegar, mayo, cilantro on a buttered hot dog bun.

And a bottle of Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Wine from California.

This will be my 40th Valentine's Day with the same woman. I've gotten better at it."

-- Lin Brehmer, DJ, WXRT

2. "For the 12 years of our 13 years together, Jesus, my husband, and I always cook for the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation every Valentine's Day in Naples, Florida as our gift to show our love and support. We believe in giving what we do best and it's something we love for a great cause.

My Father, Palmer Gene Smith, always taught me share what you love."

-- Chef Art Smith and Artist Jesus Salguerio

3. "Because I am a burlesque dancer, I'm always working on Valentine's Day. I put all of my energy into producing a show, so that I can bring joy to others. Since I am working so hard on the show, I usually forget about Valentine's Day itself. I'm very bad about celebrating it personally. My husband will always surprise me with something nice. A rose on the pillow. A piece of jewelry. A mani-pedi. It's so sweet! The bad news is that I forget to buy gifts because of the show focus. Bad wife! I suppose my performance will have to be the gift every year!"

-- Michelle L'Amour, International Burlesque Star

4. "This year, I'm looking into his and her cross country skis, inspired by all the snow and the Olympics. too."

-- Paul Virant, chef/owner Vie, Chef/partner Perennial Virant

5. "As a young, mostly penniless musician, Valentine's day was a scary proposition. Yet, it could not be ignored! So, once upon a time, I decided to create my own special dinner for a very special person. One of the things this person and I had in common was an unusual love for licorice, fennel and aniseed. I decided to create an experience around that concept, and made a dinner that included a fennel salad, an aniseed roasted chicken and homemade licorice, the whole thing accompanied by absinthe. The evening was a success."

-- George Lepauw, President and Artistic Director of the International Beethoven Project and Festival

6. "When I was Executive Chef at Tru, every year we would run an Aphrodisiac Menu. This would include the standard 'known' aphrodisiacs of the world, i.e. oysters, figs, strawberries. Then we would expand the box a little. Ras-el-hanout -- also known as the love curry -- is said to be an aphrodisiac. Asparagus is said to be an aphrodisiac and with playful plating can be 'tastefully phallic,' if such a thing exists. Almonds and honey are each considered aphrodisiacs, especially honey is said to increase testosterone.

This year at Travelle we are doing a Fire and Ice Menu. The duet of oysters are served hot and cold. The whole fish for two is flaming and the dessert is served with dry ice to create a dramatic fog on the table.

Now if only I can convince them to let me play Meatloaf's first album all service long. That would be epic!"

-- Tim Graham/Executive Chef of Travelle at the Langham Chicago

7. "Fifteen years ago, my wife Lauren was a vegetarian -- well, a pescetarian, to be exact.  She decided on Valentine's Day that year to try red meat again and ate a half-pound burger. So did I. She's never gone back to being vegetarian and, ever since, we've eaten big burgers every Valentine's Day."

-- Terence Marling, Director of Hubbard Street 2

8. "While I am of the belief that the intent of Valentines day is best celebrated daily, I can give a breakdown of my favorite Valentines day schedule. To begin, My husband Kevin and I agree to take the day off. Very. Important. After coffee in bed, we drop the kids off and take a class from our favorite personal trainer at Morning Bird Studios. A quick shower is followed by lunch downtown, a mimosa (ok, that should probably be plural) and a little shopping. If there is time, the two of us sneak in an afternoon movie before picking up the kids. Once home, a great meal (I wisely married an excellent cook), a little family time, then the kids go down and I get to "model" what we bought. Not the typical night out, but we go out so often that Valentines day offers us the perfect excuse for a romantic 'night in'!"

-- Josephine Lee, President and Artistic Director of the Chicago Children's Choir & President and CEO of GRIP

9. "Valentine's day doesn't happen for us like a lot of our guests. It's never on the 14th. Usually, it's either before or afterwards. One of the best I've ever had was in the midst of the recession. My wife and I we weren't feeling the external vibe of Valentine's Day, and wanted to keep it a little more centered. So we chose to celebrate with our then four-year-old son. We did a menu that we cooked together. It gave my wife an opportunity to drink some gift wines that were really nice that we had not yet had the opportunity to enjoy. It was one of those nights that was really enjoyable."

-- Patrick Sheerin, chef/partner, Trenchermen

10. "I like to take my wife shoplifting at Cosco; but, her heart's not in it. What?! Another bloody holiday -- I shall stay in bed in protest!"

-- Jon Langford - Romantic/Lead Singer of the Mekons & Waco Brothers,

11. "I'm not going to lie. For Valentine's Day, I stick with the tried and true: flowers, chocolate, dinner and a movie. Hey, with the economy the way it is, she just might only get dinner. Since it's Valentine's Day, you may want to give her a few more roses than normal with a better arrangement. Oh, be sure to step your inner gentleman game all the way up, open all doors, pull the chair back, help her with her coat and pour on the compliments.

You have to give her something good so she can go brag to her girlfriends. Make sure you get her enough chocolate, because if you're greedy like me, though you bought them for her, you know you're going to want her to share. She'll share if she loves you. If she doesn't, you may only be around shortly after Valentine's. Don't worry, a lot of couples break up after the big day. If she lies and tells you it doesn't matter what you get her, don't believe her. You'll never live it down."

-- Marco, Poet, Recording Artist, @marcothepoet

12. "This Valentine's is gonna be fun. We want to have delicious food without any pretension. We are having our couples share the first course and the dessert course of the Valentine's Menu. The idea is to have them share and get closer."

-- Sean Sanders, Chef/Owner Brown Trout

13. "There was a time when I celebrated Valentine's Day, but, as as adult, every day is a day filled with love, joy, flowers, happiness, living and forgiving! Spread love throughout your life as opposed to squeezing it into one day!"

-- Dee Alexander, Vocalist/Rossignol Entertainment

And because it's Valentine's Day, I will add the 14th submission.

14."I have always thought that brunettes were the sexiest women, much more so than blondes. But this year, I will don a long-haired, red wig for Valentine's Day, along with some other classic, romantic attire. I'll let you know how it goes."

-- Elysabeth Alfano, Exec Producer and Host, Fear No Art presents The Dinner Party