Countdown to Bliss

David E. Cohen and Keiko Niccolini

Met: July 2000

Engaged: Dec. 25, 2001

Projected Wedding Date: March 12, 2004

Keiko Niccolini, 27, daughter of dashing Four Seasons co-owner and Page Six habitué Julian Niccolini, is marrying David Cohen, 29, a chef and food consultant who graduated from Cornell and Le Cordon Bleu. They live in Los Gatos, Calif. (She is a regional sales manager for Illy, the Starbucks of Italy.) “If he lived here, I’d give him a job,” Mr. Niccolini said. “But it seems like once people go west, they never come back.”

All long legs and high cheekbones, Ms. Niccolini was filling up her Toyota at a 76 station in Sonoma County when she saw a tattooed guy at an adjacent pump wearing a T-shirt that read “Life is too short not to be Italian.” Amused, she struck up a conversation about local wineries. They wandered back to his Honda, where the 6-foot-2, black-haired, hunky Mr. Cohen was sitting in the passenger seat. “And the honest truth is that I fell in love at first sight,” he said. “I just knew.”

The two men suggested she join them on an afternoon tasting tour. Ms. Niccolini agreed, thinking maybe she could lure Mr. Cohen to work for her boyfriend, owner of San Francisco’s restaurant Kokkari (paging Dr. Freud!). Then followed a few blissful hours of drinking and driving. “Hey, I was under the legal limit, officer,” Mr. Cohen joked. He called soon after-not for a job, but for a date-and her romance with the other restaurateur faster than one of her fancy espressos.

The couple bought a house in the Santa Cruz mountains last year, where they enjoy a cozy domestic idyll with Kana, her 7-year-old son from a previous relationship. Mr. Cohen professed a special fondness his fiancée’s belly button. “It’s inny and just spirals in and in and in,” he said. Oh, you kooky Left Coasters!

What in the relationship brings Ms. Niccolini the most joy? “The sex!” she said. “I’m just kidding.” Too bad …. “It’s just that we have so much fun. Ridiculous amounts of fun. We have the nicest life together, and I think that’s something I learned from my parents. It’s always a riot in their home.”

The mood was indeed boisterous when Mr. Cohen proposed on Christmas morning at the Niccolinis’ “country” house in Bedford, N.Y., pulling out a Japanese folded-metal platinum band inlayed with many small diamonds from under the tree.

The nuptials will unfold in front of a few dozen close friends and family on the Italian island of Ischia in Italy, with a “traditional Venetian” wine list personally selected by Mr. Niccolini.

The Four Seasons eminence said “Why not?” when the young chef formally requested his daughter’s hand over dinner at his competitor, Le Bernardin. The two men celebrated with a round of Champagne. But Mr. Cohen said Mr. Niccolini wouldn’t touch the stuff and sent it back after one sip. “It was flat,” he claimed.

Countdown to Bliss