We return to our favorite restaurants time and time again for a variety of reasons, not all having to do with the food. So it is with celebrity chefs who return to Rhode Island for many different reasons, some of which are not readily apparent.
First, about us. In speaking with restaurateurs and chefs throughout the state, it is interesting to note the philosophies and thought processes that go into the choice to return to a longtime favorite spot.
Sylvia Moubayed of CAV observes that her regulars often choose the same table on repeat visits. As she is fond of saying, the routine at her eclectic restaurant in the Knowledge District in Providence is no routine. But like all good restaurateurs, she is focused on her guests’ experience and her innate sense of hospitality comes to the forefront. So when a regular requests a table because it is one they have occupied on previous visits, she is happy to accommodate. Patrons say when asked for the reason behind their choice that it is the original table they were at on their first visit, possibly on a first date, anniversary, proposal or other significant event.
At Blaze East Side, chef-proprietor Phyllis Arffa finds her regulars increasingly are returning for a taste- of-her-menu philosophy as much as flavor, freshness and preparation. These days, Arffa finds her tables on the Hope Street foodie row occupied by those who are practicing a conscious effort to make a difference in what they eat.
To some, that means making the choice to order vegan specialties, or dishes created from sustainable or local sources whether from farm or boat to table.
Celebrity chefs share some of those thought processes. When chef-author Aliya LeeKong was planning her book tour for her first effort, a cookbook called “Exotic Table,” this first-generation American with Indo-Pakistani and Tanzanian heritage thought about her own experience.