Who says you can’t find true love on Bourbon Street in the wee hours of the night? Chantal Martineau and Richard Ocejo met in New Orleans while both were in town for Tales of the Cocktail, 2009. She was there covering the festival as a booze writer and he was doing research for his PhD, examining urban change through the lens of bar culture. Though they were introduced at a bartending competition earlier in the night, Richard and Chantal didn’t get a chance to really talk until about 3am, at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. They stayed up chatting until the break of dawn, and by then they both knew that wanted to keep the conversation going.
Today the pair lives in Fort Greene. Chantal, 34, is a freelancer who has written about wine and spirits as well as food and travel for publications including the Village Voice, Food Republic, The Atlantic, Saveur and Redbook. Richard, 30, is a professor of sociology at John Jay College. He is a Staten Island native who moved to Brooklyn in 2003, she grew up in Montreal, and has been living in New York, for about seven years. “I moved to Brooklyn two years ago and plan to never leave,” says Chantal.
Both Richard and Chantal realized they wanted to spend their lives together while in Montreal, she says, though at different moments. “He realized how he was starting to feel like the city was his other home and my family was also his family,” Chantal explains. “For me, it was also in Montreal, or rather driving back from it. I pictured us making the drive back with our kids and thought, ‘Yikes! I’m probably going to marry this guy.'”
She compares their relationship to that of another Brooklyn couple–Cliff and Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show. “Because we’re silly but professional. We’re equal partners, taking turns being the voice of reason,” she explains. And, most importantly,”He likes sweaters.”
This past July, he popped the question while the two were in Italy–Richard was teaching at a study abroad program at the University of Genoa. “We had weekends to ourselves and went to one of my favorite wineries in Piedmont,” says Chantal. Come sunset he got down on one knee and proposed. “It’s a really rustic wine farm–there were free-range chickens walking around, goats, cows nearby. A dog and wall-eyed cat watched.”
No word on whether the cat and dog will attend, but the couple plan to marry next summer, on August, 4, 2012.