When Craig D. Black Jr. and Kevin J. Shannon began dating long-distance four years ago, eating together was a time to get to know each other—and challenge each other. "Craig used to be very picky," says Shannon. As they grew closer, he introduced Black to a wide variety of cuisines and vegetables. "I used to not even like Chinese food, or peas!" admits Black.
Now that they're married and both dancing at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, cooking has become their bonding time. Shannon will make the main dish, like a veggie lasagna using kale from their garden, while Black bakes dessert, often a pie. Today, both dancers love trying out new foods, getting inspiration by eating out in Chicago's Restaurant Row or watching the "The Great British Baking Show."
Cooking at home. Photo by Greg Birman
Their Typical Daily Diet Is Full of Produce & Protein
Breakfast: Egg and cheese on an English muffin, or whole-grain cereal plus a smoothie. "Craig puts kale in without telling me!" says Shannon.
Lunch: Leftovers. "I'll make a dish to last two or three meals; I just change up the vegetables," says Shannon.
Rehearsal snacks: Black likes KIND bars, bananas, plums and apples; Shannon prefers cashews, almonds or pistachios.
Pre-show meal: A salad, chicken and avocado. "I bring it back to basics," says Black, who also sips a coffee.
Backstage treats: Orange juice, chocolate or a spoonful of honey.
Post-show favorite: Au Cheval, an upscale diner open until 1 am. "They have matzo ball soup, a burger, poutine, salad—you can be healthy and not so healthy," says Shannon.
Black and Shannon cook about three or four times a week. Photo by Greg Birman.
They're All About Backyard-to-Table
Shannon and Black love to cook with the vegetables and herbs they grow in their garden. Although it's difficult to maintain when they're touring a lot, they typically like to plant:
- several kinds of peppers
- heirloom tomatoes
- 4 types of lavender
- 3 types of thyme
- 2 or 3 types of basil
- chocolate mint, spearmint and peppermint
Black and Shannon love to eat what they grow. Photo by Greg Birman.
Their Favorite Souvenirs Help Them Relax
The couple often relaxes with a glass of wine at the end of the day. On tour, they like to check out local vineyards and bring home a bottle or two. "We like to try new things, and support local winemakers as much as we can," says Shannon.
Vineyards make great off-day destinations on tour. Photo by Jamie Street/StockSnap
They Keep Some Eclectic Candy In Their House
Their favorite at-home treats are green tea–flavored Kit Kats that a friend brings back for them whenever she travels to Taiwan. "I used to not like green tea flavor—I thought it was too bitter," says Black. "But now I love green tea everything."
They Cook 3-4 Nights A Week, With Some Throwback Recipes
Shannon shared his recipe for vegetable borscht:
- 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 1 leek, top and bottom removed (diced)
- 4 medium beets (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 3–4 carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 3–4 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
- 2 tbsps. white vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 48 oz. beef, chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 small/medium head of cabbage (halved and chopped)
- sour cream or yogurt
- pinch of dill and splash of lemon juice (optional)
Heat oil in medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onion and leek. Cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add beets, carrots and parsnips. Cook another 5 minutes. Add vinegar. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Cook until beets are soft, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15–20 minutes, then add cabbage. Cook another 20 minutes. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Add optional dill or lemon juice to taste. Serves 6–8.
Prepping borscht. Photo by Greg Birman