Restaurant Spotlight: The Sisters Behind The Cheese Board
Reno’s favorite American Bistro The Cheese Board is the kind of place you know you can count on. The type of place you return to again and again, with friends, with family, with a big group or for a date night. The food is delicious. No frills, just great food, made with the best ingredients around. It’s no wonder the restaurant has become the kind of place that locals and visitors rely on;the women behind the scenes have been relying on each other their whole lives, sisters Krista Phillips and Caitlin Fletcher. After buying the restaurant last year, from Debbie Branby who started The Cheese Board in 1981, they’ve sought to uphold its beloved reputation and add a little flare of their own. One thing’s for sure, from the staff to the food, you’ll find affection in everything they do.
What do you think is unique about the Reno food scene?
Krista: The (restaurant) growth in Midtown has been organic. It hasn’t been developed by a corporate entity, it’s people just like us that love food and had a concept for a restaurant they loved, and they created it. We’re all just people who love food, who love this place. We’re local people.
Caitlin: I agree with Krista, the local part of our food scene is that it’s a compilation of everybody’s favorite things. People are creating spaces that they want to share with our community. It’s not San Francisco or New York, it’s not this elaborate, fancy food, which is great in its own way. Here everyone’s food and palate come from a special place, and everyone wants to support each other. People who love Reno are bringing their favorites to the community.
How has Reno changed over time?
Krista: Living here for so long and you see the actual landscape change before your eyes. South Reno was all farmland. When they started building houses there, I wondered who would live there. Now I live there.
Caitlin: The movement from the focus being on casinos and buffets. Now there is this whole adventurous side to Reno that locals have a passion for. You still have people saying they don’t know how they feel about Reno, but locals will fight to the death defending Reno. It’s a hidden gem. We’ve gone from this slimy, gross casino place where people came to sin on the cheap to a whole new community of outdoor adventure, of food, of distilleries and breweries. It’s been a magical transformation.
How did you fall in love with food?
Caitlin: Food has always been a part of our family, my father was a line cook, and my mother was a waitress. That’s how they met. We always had the privilege of having a home-cooked meal. We were able to take that interest and bring it to the restaurant space and see the dynamic that it created, see the energy and the specialness of what food does for people. It brings people together in all facets of life. You have food in all your greatest memories. It’s not just the love of food. It’s the love of people and the combination they have together.
Krista: I love the direct link between food and memories. I studied abroad in Italy, and I remember when I came back home Bibo Coffee has opened. I had one of their cappuccino. It instantly took me back. The other thing I really love is that when you are a part of a restaurant team, you become part of an instant family. It doesn’t matter what you do in the restaurant. These are your comrades in arms. That drew me to restaurants more than food. There was no hierarchy. You’re part of this crazy clan of misfits and you take the love of those people with you wherever you go.
What’s Something on the menu you’re excited about?
Krista: Caprese, it sounds basic, but it’s all about fresh and local ingredients. The tomatoes are coming from Dayton Hydroponics and they are so good. Our baker, who has been here for 12 years, has mastered the quiche. It doesn’t matter what kind. It’s where quiche dreams are made.
Caitlin: Our chefs are amazing, they come up with brilliant ideas to highlight what’s local and what’s in season.
What is one ingredient you think is under appreciated?
Krista: Aioli or mayonnaise. We do this roast beef sandwich with a béarnaise aioli, whenever there is a béarnaise aioli I just want to eat it!
Caitlin: I do think it’s just aioli in general. It’s the magical ingredient that can make a dish come to life. People turn their nose up at it. I used to be one of them, but it’s amazing! Now I’m like extra, please!
What is a food trend you don’t like?
Caitlin: I don’t love when someone is making a dessert like a macaroon and making it savory like a foie gras macaron. I want a sweet almond macaron. Food is best in its simplest form. It doesn’t need to be overdone. The innocence and purity of what it is are enough.
Krista: I think the charcoal things is super weird. The unicorn trend as well. I’m like where did those dyes come from? It’s an unnatural state of food. That’s what we don’t like.
What is a food trend you love?
Caitlin: We are able to have more urban farms and use in-season ingredients that weren’t used before. Our parents are from the midwest, so it was all canned food for them. We’re able to access a lot of seasonal foods.
Krista: Just because you can get something in a store doesn’t mean you should be eating it. When we have someone who asks for something very out of season, I always feel weird bringing it to them, knowing it’s not the best it could be.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Krista: I’m always surprised by what people are surprised by. People don’t realize that you have something outside of this place or they don’t realize in other parts of our life that this is what we do.
Caitlin: People still get surprised when I tell them I own a restaurant with my sister. We are able to work so closely together, and we’re best friends. I’m so proud and honored to say that I own this restaurant with my sister. We see things differently, but that’s part of what makes it great. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.