Chef Adrienne Cheatham just can’t stay out of the kitchen—even on her wedding day.
The Top Chef star, who was the runner-up on season 15 of the Bravo series, tied the knot with business executive Stephen Bailey in an intimate ceremony in New Orleans on March 17—and created the cake for her big day on the big day.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Cheatham, 36, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I’ve never really gone to events where I’m not working in some capacity, so I was like, ‘I can’t just be there and do nothing.’” So two hours before the ceremony began, the bride—wearing a grey T-shirt with her hair curled up in pins—grabbed her tools to assemble and ice the three-tier, buttermilk cake with roasted white chocolate frosting.
“In retrospect I would have liked to go to brunch and hang out with friends and family and marathon drink all day, but yeah, I was making a cake,” she says with a laugh.
Cheatham, who is known for her elevated Southern cuisine, wisely left the rest of the menu preparation to the chef at Degas House, the site of the wedding (although “I kept feeling like I should be working,” she says.). Inspired by the flavors of New Orleans, one her favorite food cities, the couple and their 60 guests feasted on a variety of traditional Southern creole dishes, including an oyster station, a shrimp cocktail station, and Cheatham’s favorite dish: a subtly spicy vegetable creole stew.
The couple first met in 2015 at a wine bar in Harlem, New York after one of Cheatham’s 16-hour shifts in the kitchen. At first, she says she wasn’t interested in talking to Bailey, CEO and founder of ExecOnline, because she was “in a bad mood”—but once she finished her first glass of wine and the bartender nudged her to shake off the work day and talk to him, the pair hit it off. However, a few weeks after they met, Cheatham moved to Bermuda to help Marcus Samuelsson open a restaurant on the island. The pair fell out of touch, but, when the chef moved back to New York three months later, Bailey texted her to reconnect and asked her to dinner—and they’ve been together ever since.
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