Kent Rigsby is chef and co-proprietor along with his wife, Anastasia “Tasi” Rigsby, of Rigsby’s Kitchen, a nationally acclaimed Italian-Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus’ downtown arts district, The Short North. The Rigsby’s have garnered a loyal and devoted following for the last 22 years by serving delicious, fresh, seasonal, and made-to-order food inspired primarily by the diverse regions of Italy.
Beginning as a member of the opening wait staff of TGIF in Columbus in 1975, Kent has accrued 32 years of restaurant experience. A Columbus native and a child of the 60’s and 70’s, Kent actually grew up in a family not obsessed with food. It was while attending college at Ohio Wesleyan that Kent began recreational cooking for his roommates and friends. During that time he began enjoying dining out in restaurants, especially on trips to NYC and Europe. In the summer of 1972 Kent spent 3 months on the Greek island of Syros where he fell in love with the local, fresh food and wine that he had tasted in taverns and private homes. From then on he would never again be happy with Mrs. Paul’s Crab Meatballs of his youth.
On a trip to San Francisco to visit a college friend, Kent became entranced with the beauty and culture of San Francisco and the Bay Area. His visit soon turned into a permanent residence, and he started waiting tables at the famed Alta Mira Hotel in Sausalito. He became obsessed, however, with the dynamics on the other side of the “line”
and started to realize that the kitchen is where he belonged.
Kent decided to enroll in a new cooking school that was just opening in San Francisco, where he became a member of the first class of the California Culinary Academy. The cooking school was transformational for Kent. He had finally found his calling. While in cooking school he continued to wait tables at the historical Schroeders German restaurant in the financial district. Kent was the only waiter at that time who was under the age of 55. He was 25.
After cooking school Kent worked for the next three years in San Raphael, California as sous-chef at Maurice et Charles Bistro, one of the top restaurants of the day. The owners of the restaurant arranged for Kent to travel through France and tour a handful of top restaurants.
After returning from France Kent took jobs in a series of restaurants in San Francisco including The Washington Square Bar and Grill, Ristorante Prego, and Alexis and Sally Stanford’s Valhalla in Sausalito. While at the Washington Square Bar and Grill, Kent worked as a chef, a waiter, and a bartender.
In 1983 Kent moved back to Columbus, Ohio and became chef at Lindey’s in German Village. He worked there for three years and then struck out on his own. In February, 1986 Rigsby’s Cuisine Volatile opened.
Kent and Tasi opened Eleni-Christina, an artisan bread bakery named after their first-born daughter in 1994. In 2005 Rigsby’s Cuisine Volatile underwent a major remodeling and was rechristened Rigsby’s Kitchen. Kent continues to work everyday in the kitchen, Tasi runs the business and greets customers in the dining room, and the restaurant is doing better than ever, 22 years later.
Tasi grew up in the in the restaurant business in San Francisco where her father, an immigrant from Crete, owned several successful Greek restaurants. As a child and young adult Tasi would spend each summer in Crete where she would soak up the culture and cuisine of her beloved family and ancestors.
Before Tasi became a restaurateur she was a professional ballet dancer for about 25 years. Tasi received her formal training at the San Francisco Ballet School and became an apprentice with the company at the age of 14. She performed nationally and in South America during her 2 ½ year tenure with the company. She then moved to Philadelphia where she joined the renowned Pennsylvania Ballet Company in 1981 at the age of 15 ½. Tasi’s professional career finally led her to Ballet Metropolitan in Columbus, Ohio where she was a principal dancer for over 10 years.
Tasi retired from ballet dancing in 1995 and joined her husband to help run Rigsby’s Kitchen as general manager and catering director. In November 2007 TASI café opened. This small 25-seat restaurant serves breakfast all day, as well as a lunch and dinner menu. TASI café is located right behind Rigsby’s, across the alley. The café was Tasi’s inspiration and has not only inspired a loyal and dedicated following from the local Short North neighborhood, but also from across city as well.