Tasi Rigsby has an appetite for two things: food and dance.
"My father owned three restaurants in San Francisco," she said. "My mother was a ballet dancer."
Tasi herself started dancing at a young age and trained with the San Francisco Ballet. She went on to dance professionally with the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia and BalletMet in Columbus.
Her love of food came from her family, where she learned to cook and appreciate food from her father and grandmother.
"When I was a dancer, I would have dinner parties. People would spend the night. They would turn into breakfast parties," she said. "Food was always a part of what I would do."
Now 46, Tasi can most often be found floating across the floors at the two restaurants she runs with her husband, longtime chef Kent Rigsby, or shuttling their two daughters to dance and gymnastics. Together, the Rigsbys own Short North hot spots Rigsby's Kitchen and Tasi Cafe and raise dancer Eleni, 16, and gymnast Zoe, 11.
It's all a family affair, according to Kent. "The children are engaged with the restaurants," he said. They often dine together at the restaurants as family time.
Working with Tasi, he said, is "a good thing." And as a mother, she's passionate and dynamic. "But strong, too," he said. "She doesn't let the kids get away with everything."
Tasi expresses her love of food by cooking for her family, sometimes with her husband. But she says it's comical when the two of them are in the kitchen together. "It's so funny. We're like a television show," she said. "We always ask, 'Why are you doing it that way?' "
Tasi, for example, makes stock as her grandmother taught her, seasoning it at the beginning of the cooking process. Kent makes it the French way, adding salt only at the end. To settle the dispute, the couple asked their daughters to decide which version they liked better. The kids chose Tasi's. Now Kent makes his stock that way at home and at the restaurant.
But Tasi is quick to concede to Kent's expertise in the kitchen. "It's all about seasoning," she said. "He seasons food better than anyone I know."
When Tasi handles the cooking at home, she leans toward ethnic cuisines such as Moroccan or Japanese. "I'll make chicken, lamb or pork tagine," she said. "Or a grass-fed steak. That and a little salad or pasta. That's good stuff."
But she hasn't stopped dancing; she now dances ballroom competitively. She'll dance a few hours a day for two or three days a week with her partner from Cleveland. Or they'll try to spend an entire weekend perfecting their moves, using a room at Lifetime Fitness that is open 24 hours if they can't get a studio.
And just as they always have, Tasi's passions continue feeding each other.
"I'm having a good time," she said. "I'm psychotic about working out. I like to be hungry."
Robin Davis is The Columbus Dispatch food editor. For more, visit DispatchKitchen.com.
Apr 27, 2011 at 12:01 AM May 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM