Ms. Morgenshtern and Mr. Lin’s recipe for success began in a grammar school kitchen in Brooklyn.
They met in April 2015 at Public School 230 as part of a bimonthly volunteer project run by New York Cares, which included teaching third graders how to prepare and cook six-course lunches in their school cafeterias.
“I thought he was very kind and easy going,” Ms. Morgenshtern said. “He was also incredibly patient with the children.”
Mr. Lin was equally impressed. “She seemed very carefree and kind when working with the kids, and she always had such a great sense of humor,” he said. “There was definitely some chemistry there.”
Both were seeing other people at the time, so they had little choice but to remain friends. Seven months later, they left a cooking session together and began discussing family, friends and plans for Thanksgiving during a ride on the G train, where Ms. Morgenshtern was heading home to the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn and Mr. Lin to Greenpoint.
“I definitely wanted to get to know her better on a personal level,” Mr. Lin said. He was attempting to do just that when the train doors opened at her Bergen Street stop, and Ms. Morgenshtern got off.
“I’ll just ask her next time,” Mr. Lin remembered thinking.
The following month, Mr. Lin returned to the session only to learn that Ms. Morgenshtern was not there. “I didn’t know what happened to her, and the only person who had her contact information was our volunteer project organizer, and all of that was kept private,” Mr. Lin said. “Being a single man in New York, I was used to the ups and downs of dating, and I thought it was a lost opportunity.”
In April 2016, Ms. Morgenshtern finally resurfaced at the cooking class. Since five long months had passed, Mr. Lin felt it best to keep the heat out of the kitchen. “I didn’t say anything to her about missing her or about how I was feeling,” he said.
The following month, she invited him, along with other friends, to a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to watch the Kentucky Derby. (By now, they were both unattached.) “I remember thinking, ‘Uh-oh, am I getting friend-zoned?’” Mr. Lin recalled. “So I politely declined and suggested one-on-one drinks instead in the coming week.”
Ms. Morgenshtern accepted, and only then did she realize that Mr. Lin had romance on his mind. “I tend to be oblivious about these things,” she said, laughing.
After visiting a few bars, they shared a first kiss in front of the McDonald’s outside the Delancey Street subway station. “It was the most romantic kiss in the least romantic spot,” Mr. Lin said.
Mr. Lin, who fully embraced Ms. Morgenshtern’s Belarusian heritage, studied the Russian language for three months to be able to ask her Minsk-born parents for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
“My parents are fluent in English, but he was still determined to do it,” Ms. Morgenshtern said. “He was so devoted, I just thought it was the sweetest thing.”