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Can a chicken dinner really change your life?
If you’re skeptical of such a simple thing having such a profound affect, you’re not alone.
So was Cheshire native Alyssa Gugliotti, until a dinner of baked lemon chicken and spices altered her future.
Gugliotti, a 2003 graduate of Cheshire High School, saw a recipe dubbed “Engagement Chicken” in an issue of Glamour magazine while she was in college. She laughed about it with her friends and it became an inside joke in her group for years.
“The legend of ‘Engagement Chicken,’” Gugliotti laughed. “None of us were in the (marriage) state of mind at that point, so it became a joke.”
For whatever reason, Gugliotti, 26, stuffed the recipe in the back of one of her cookbooks and took it with her when she moved to Boston for her post-college career. She met her boyfriend, Lyle Stevens, during college when he won a date with her during a charity auction through her sorority. More than three years later, Gugliotti knew Stevens was the man she wanted to marry. They had talked about the future, but the question lingered: When would he pop the question?
So, Gugliotti dug into her cookbook and found the five-year-old recipe for engagement chicken. The chicken is stuffed with whole lemons and coated with different seasonings and baked in the oven. The meal came out great and tasted really good, she explained, but the real magic occurred a few days later when Stevens proposed.
“I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when or how soon it would be,” Gugliotti said. “It was in the plans, but I made the chicken and it all fell into place after. I made it with no expectations of it happening. I don’t know if it’s magic, but it’s a good story.”
After she said “Yes,” she told her new fiancé about the recipe and they shared a good laugh together. Gugliotti explained that her fiancé had already purchased a ring, and was just waiting for the right time to propose. Chalk another one up for the “Engagement Chicken,” the dinner worked.
Gugliotti works for a public relations agency in Boston where employees can post just about anything on the company’s blog. After she became engaged, Gugliotti wrote her story and extolled the powers of “Engagement Chicken.”
“Attention single ladies! I have a recipe that will bring your man down on one knee with a ring in his hand,” she wrote on the blog. “If you’re looking to play with fate, perhaps you should throw on your apron and try this recipe tonight.”
Gugliotti said she wanted to be witty and funny and didn’t expect much from it, after it was put up on the company’s social media profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter. It just so happens that Glamour magazine also has a Twitter account, and the blog post made its way into the magazine editor’s hands.
“The magazine contacted our office because they have a list of 60-plus women who made the chicken and then soon after got engaged,” Gugliotti said. “They are putting together a cookbook with the recipe and they wanted to have our names in the sidebar to say, ‘Here is the recipe and this is the people it worked for.’”
When she sent in her release forms and a photo, Glamour was also putting together a bridal issue featuring a new line of dresses from designer Vera Wang. Besides being featured in the cookbook, Gugliotti was then asked to be in the magazine as one of the four featured “real life brides” who made the “Engagement Chicken.” She got engaged in June of last summer and, a few months later in November, she was in New York City modeling a Vera Wang gown. Gugliotti appeared in the February 2011 issue of Glamour, which is on sale now.
“It felt like a fairy tale. I’ve always loved fashion, loved weddings, and love the combination of the two,” Gugliotti stated. “I would have created this in my head as a fantasy, but I actually spent two days in New York with Vera Wang who did the styling herself.”
For agreeing to take part in the photo shoot, Glamour gave Gugliotti a gift certificate to David’s Bridal wedding shop. She has already purchased her dream gown, so she plans to use the gift certificate on her bridesmaids. It has been a whirlwind and something Gugliotti said has been simply amazing.
“All girls love this type of stuff. I think the majority of women are fascinated by this stuff,” she said. “We all want to have a fairy tale wedding day.”
And what about the power of “Engagement Chicken” that started it all?
“A lot of my girlfriends have asked me for the recipe,” she laughed.