Paolo has lunch, then afterwards he proposes marriage
Published 23/08/2014 | 13:44
It's been a monumental week for Ireland's favourite foodie and restaurant reviewer.
Paolo Tullio celebrated his birthday on Wednesday and at the weekend he surprised his partner, Marian Kenny, with a stunning engagement ring while on holidays in Italy.
It's a very romantic story because Paolo and Marian have know each other for over 20 years and first met when they both had children attending Aravon school near Bray. Little did they suspect what cupid's arrow had in mind for them two decades later after their respective marriages broke up and they both became single.
Marian is best known as 'The Blonde' in Paolo's restaurant reviews for Weekend magazine and they have been dating for six years.
The former Michelin star-winning head chef of Armstrong's Barn restaurant in Annamoe, Co Wicklow presented the glamorous blonde tax consultant with a gorgeous emerald and diamond platinum ring after lunch in the Comino Valley.
The romantic setting is near his hometown of Gallinaro where his family came to live in the 14th Century. Every summer, Paolo returns for the month of August to see relatives in the valley which lies north of Naples and south of Rome, which was the title of his best-selling book.
Calling me with their news, Paolo said: "No, I didn't get down on one knee to propose because I wouldn't have been able to get up again."
The couple are well acquainted with the intricate details of the wedding scene as they both had daughters marry in the last year.
Paolo's artist daughter Bella married a year ago and Marian's daughter, Gemma Kenny, married Gavin Cullen at Killruddery House last month. Clearly the stately pile - which has been home to 16 generations of the Brabazon family - had quite an impact on Marian who told me she would "like to get married there next June or July" and yes, she would like "all the bells and whistles."
A true Italian at heart, Paolo is incredibly romantic and if he's not cooking Marian incredible meals, he brings her away on food trips and has already given her a family diamond to wear.
"Paolo spoke about marriage to me about two month ago and I thought 'is he mad?' Then he called me another day and told me he had bought 'the ring' but said no more about it. We were in Italy for about a week and one day, we went for lunch.
"Afterwards, sitting on the terrace, Paolo took out a ring box and said 'this is for my girl, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?' It was a wonderful, very special moment," said Marian who flew home to Dublin last night. Paolo's artist son Rocco has flown out to join his dad for the last week of the holidays.