For Two Foodies, ‘Love at First Bite’

Rebecca Paige Rechtman made her way to Kung-Gene Chu’s heart not through his stomach, but through hers.

The two first connected online through the dating service OkCupid in July 2014. “I had never been so captivated in a profile,” Mr. Chu said. A few weeks later, they met in person at Father Demo Square, a small park on Avenue of the Americas, near N.Y.U.

Ms. Rechtman, who goes by Paige, was sitting on a bench when Mr. Chu arrived. After chatting for a while, they “somehow ended up talking about soup dumplings,” he said, then decided to go get some at Shanghai Asian Manor, now called Shanghai 21, a restaurant in Chinatown.

There, Mr. Chu watched Ms. Rechtman devour dumplings as if there were no tomorrow. “Paige had so many hand motions, sounds,” he said. “It was unbelievable.”

“I had never in my life seen anyone who was such an enthusiastic eater,” Mr. Chu added. “It was love at first bite.”

Ms. Rechtman did not deny her fervor for food. “I admit to being expressive when I eat,” she said. “I can’t help it, I make a lot of mmmms, but I tried to hold back as it was just a first date.”

He won her over after their second date the following week. Ms. Rechtman, who had a sore throat, said she “was smitten” when Mr. Chu brought her cough syrup and made her a concoction with honey and cayenne pepper as she recovered.

“No one had ever done anything so thoughtful for me,” she added.

Both living in Brooklyn, Mr. Chu soon introduced Ms. Rechtman to biking around the city, an activity that brought them even closer. “It was very scary at first, but Kung was always there to teach me,” she said. “Now my bicycle is like a second pair of legs.”

As they continued dating, the two discovered that a love of food was not the only thing they had in common. Both play clawhammer banjo and, as children, each had lost a parent. When Mr. Chu was 3½-years-old, his mother died of lymphoma at age 40. Ms. Rechtman’s father died of kidney cancer at age 46, when she was 9.

“I’m extroverted, very enthusiastic and emotional,” Ms. Rechtman, now 37, said. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Florida and is a psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn.

Mr. Chu, now 40, graduated from N.Y.U. and works as a producer, project manager and agent at Bransch, a boutique visual agency in Manhattan that specializes in advertising and film. He “is more introverted and very grounded,” Ms. Rechtman said, and “always thinks things through before saying them out loud, whereas I have no filter.”

Despite those different traits, “we are on the same page,” she added.

In February 2016, about a year and a half after they started dating, Ms. Rechtman moved out of her Crown Heights apartment and in with Mr. Chu at his place Williamsburg. They began to talk about marriage three years later, in early 2019. Those discussions culminated in an impromptu proposal that September, while the two were biking through the Amsterdamse Bos park on a trip to Amsterdam.

“At one point in the afternoon the sun was shining and everything looked very cinematic,” Ms. Rechtman said. “We both looked at each other and knew that we wanted to be together.”

Without a ring on hand, they instead decided to “give each other something from the forest,” as she put it, and picked out leaves that the couple eventually had pressed and framed. Months later, on New Year’s Eve in December 2019, Mr. Chu gave her his mother’s engagement ring, which his father had saved for him.

On June 4, the two were wed before 50 guests at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden by John Ambrose, a friend of the couple’s who was ordained a Universal Life minister for the occasion.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds and some attendees biked from the garden, in Prospect Heights, to Otis, a restaurant in Bushwick, where they held a reception with 75 guests. All attendees had provided proof of vaccination and negative Covid test results within three days of the event.

“The day was magical,” the bride said, and “full of things we love.”

Added the groom, “It embodied us and what we care about.”