Nate Pearlman and Elana Schiff’’s fairytale of a relationship started in the sprawling hills of upstate New York at the Culinary Institute of America. Their stories started on different coasts before intertwining in culinary school and finally landing in Austin, Texas.
Elana hails from Orange County, California and has been baking for as long as she can remember. She found herself baking in the kitchen with her mother, who encouraged her to take baking and decorating classes at an early age. Her passion and drive then led to her to attend CIA in the fall of 2012.
Nate started six weeks prior to Elana’s arrival, coming from nearby Washingtonville. A stint at the University of Buffalo while working at the student union led him to culinary school. He was closing down for the night and smelled something that reminded him of his mother’s meat sauce that was so nostalgic that brought him back to his childhood. “All I want to be able to do is help create memories, that’s been my biggest motivation”, Pearlman recalls as he emphasizes that moment that led him to withdraw from his classes and enrolled in nearby Rockland Community College for the culinary management program. Down the path, Nate finally made his way to CIA in Hyde Park.
The two knew each other through social circles and were finally introduced through Elana’s roommate, who was working in Sarasota, Florida, with Nate working on his externship. The Culinary Institute of America’s program is two years, with an eighteen week externship in between. During this break, Nate spent his time in Sarasota while entertaining his budding romance with Elana as she spent her externship in Austin, Texas, working at Sweetish Hill Bakery.
After jokingly suggesting he visit her in Austin, Elana agreed and Nate booked a plane ticket four days later. At this point, they hadn’t spent time together one on one until he landed. When they met, “It just clicked. We sat at a crepe food truck off Barton Springs and just talked for two hours. We had a wonderful weekend”, Schiff says. The two began dating in the midst of their externships and finished school, Nate in February 2014 followed by Elana in May 2014.
Within the first six months of dating, they finished school at CIA and decided to leave for Austin and move in together. Elana continued to work at Sweetish Hill Bakery followed by her working at Loved Birds Sweets, which led to starting her own business, Iced Cakes & Confections last June. She’s been featured in Wedding Wire and has made a name for herself by word of mouth. Nate has spent time in kitchens across the board: Foreign & Domestic, Lox Box & Barrel, Second Bar and Kitchen, and Boiler Nine. He's now in the process of starting his own catering company, Seasoned Catering, along with good friend and partner, Keith Thornton.
Elana recalls when she almost gave up on dating chefs. She swore them off right before Nate and after a rocky relationship ended. “I’m over chefs, I’m never dating them again!”, she told a girlfriend. Luckily enough, Nate came around and changed her mind. Together, the two speak lovingly of each other’s endeavors and plans, especially of their upcoming wedding in November. The two have the rest of their lives to make memories over their love of food together.