Eat Drink Love
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Kevin Sprague
Two chefs put their busy lives on the backburner for a few hours to say their vows — and feed their guests
On Oct. 10, 2020, Ratna Goenardi made a Facebook post of her “to do” list for the day, including mundane chores such as changing lightbulbs. The last item? “Marry Jeffery.”
“Jeffery” is Jeffery Hobbs, who operates Slow Bone Barbecue, a Dallas restaurant known for its smoked meats. Ratna owns Sugar Biscuit, a custom bakery she launched in Fort Worth. But as business slowed due to COVID, she found herself helping out at Slow Bone more and more, especially with catering. “She has such a great eye for design that she took over the website and worked the register in the restaurant. Business is slower, but there’s more to do with fewer people. She’s pitched in any way she can,” says Jeffery.
She and Jeffery met in Fort Worth at AF+B, a restaurant featuring upscale comfort food that he had helped open in 2014. He parted ways with the owners after less than a year but was still living in Fort Worth and had stopped by the restaurant one night for dinner. Ratna had the same idea and took an empty seat next to him at the bar. A friendship led to a long courtship, and eventually the couple got engaged on Christmas Eve 2019 and bought a house in Oak Cliff the following month.
Then COVID happened.
“While we didn’t have any definite wedding plans, the idea was for us to meet my family in Indonesia instead of just FaceTiming them every day,” says Ratna. “But we realized that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.”
Instead, they opted to have a casual event at the restaurant with good food — made by Ratna and Jeffery— and just close family and friends, one of whom served as the officiant. Ratna wore a white lace cocktail dress that a friend had altered to be more of a custom design. Jeffery’s guayabera featured hand embroidery (the words “I Do” and the wedding date) by Ratna.
Their wedding day started early. Jeffery is the pitmaster on weekends, and he has to be at Slow Bone at 6 a.m. “We got home about 3, showered, changed clothes and were back at the restaurant by 5 for the 7 p.m. wedding,” says Ratna.
The couple wanted to write their own vows, but Jeffery says he winged it on the spot. “I had worked out in my head what I wanted to say. In that moment, the world melted away and it was just the two of us there.” Ratna laughs and says the ceremony was a bit of a blur. “I was thinking about the egg rolls, but I was in awe about how he felt about me.”
For dinner, safely spaced-out tables were set with biodegradable plates and utensils. The multicourse meal was served in tiffin lunch boxes — stacked metal tins — that enabled guests to take home leftovers and a nice party favor. The menu featured food the couple loves: an Indonesian stew, vegetable spring rolls, ham salad empanadas, a broccoli-ramen salad and smoked lamb chops.
For dessert, they had baked amaretto cakes, salted caramel brownies and iced sugar cookies.
“We went home that night, exhausted. We passed out and were back at the restaurant at 6 a.m. the next day,” says Ratna. “We hope to have a bigger celebration in the future, but it was perfect considering what is going on around us.”