Rennie Dyball
December 04, 2006 12:00 PM

Halle Berry can’t stop smiling. Her boyfriend, model Gabriel Aubry, is kissing her cheeks as dozens of candles cast a flattering light on the couple—not like they need it—and Cuban music wafts through the room. Thinking back on their one-year anniversary the night before, Berry confesses, “We did nothing.” Says her beau: “We cuddled up.”

There was more of the same this evening, Nov. 14, as the couple celebrated the opening party for Café Fuego, the Cuban restaurant that Aubry started with business partner Stephane Bibeau. Located in Manhattan’s East Village, the eatery has been in business since August, but the bash waited for Berry, 40, who had been filming Things We Lost in the Fire with Benicio Del Toro in Vancouver. Might the actress return the thoughtful gesture, perhaps with breakfast in bed? No way, says Aubry, 31: “I do the serving in the bed.” Berry smiles again: “Finally!” she says. “There is a God!”

It’s no secret that the Oscar-winning actress hasn’t exactly been lucky in love. After two divorces (and a tabloid field day about second husband Eric Benét’s alleged affairs), “I no longer have the need to be someone’s wife, to feel validated through marriage,” Berry told reporters in March. But when she met Aubry at a Versace photo shoot last fall, sparks flew. “They have great chemistry together,” says Bibeau. “They are very cozy with each other.” The couple generally stay under the celebrity radar by holing up at home in L.A. “We’re not big TV people,” says Aubry. “We just like to read and talk.”

Before he was discovered by a Montreal-based talent scout, the Canadian-born Aubry worked as a cook in a restaurant. And in the 10 years since, “I’ve been traveling all over the world,” he says. “When I was just starting, I didn’t have that much money. Cuban food was cheap, and it was really good.” Once Aubry became a successful model, says Bibeau, a longtime friend, “we said, ‘Let’s have a restaurant. Just for the hell of it.'”

“When I met him, he told me he was about to open this restaurant,” says Berry, “so it’s been a long process. I’ve watched him and supported him.” But that support apparently doesn’t include contributing to Café Fuego’s menu. “Corn is the only thing that I can cook,” Berry says with a laugh. “You wet it, wrap it in a paper towel and put in the microwave for three minutes. It’s perfect every time.”

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