Putting a kitchen in the front window quite literally makes a statement about how involved Jakob White and Fernanda Tapia White want their customers to be in Comedor, a new Chilean-American restaurant opening in Newton. For White and Tapia White, their new restaurant is all about incorporating the client into the restaurant experience. Set to open in the coming weeks—sometime between Sept. 22 and 29—almost every aspect of Comedor, from the conception to the funding, has been customer-centric.
Despite Tapia White growing up in Santiago, Chile and White hailing from New York, the couple’s thoughts about how a meal should be were formed at a young age and are quite similar.
“Together, we both shared similar kind of experiences growing up just having dinner with our families—having a lot of small dishes of food and small plates on the table,” White said on Monday. “It was a very fun, interactive way to eat. That registered with us, and we thought about that when we were starting a restaurant.”
The pair met in the culinary program at Boston University and later worked together at 51 Lincoln. They were married last year and decided it was time to open a restaurant together.
The duo have managed to involve their clients even before Comedor has begun to serve food. Through the use of Kickstarter, $25,160 was raised to put the finishing touches on the restaurant. “That was our plan from the beginning,” White said. “We learned about Kickstrater, and we wanted to reach out to the local community and help them be a part of something that is happening in their neighborhood.”
Comedor, meaning “dining room” in Spanish, is exactly the atmosphere the duo envisions for its new space. The food will be served small-plate style, allowing the diners to have a collective culinary experience. “It’s not just that kind of thing where they order one entree and each person is like, ‘Oh, how was yours? How was yours?’ You know? Everyone kind of gets to share and be a part of this experience,” White said.
They have built a chef’s bar so that a bar surrounds the kitchen where the customers see their food being cooked. The windows of the restaurant also allow for easy viewing into the kitchen for passersby. White expressed that with the popularization of chefs on TV, people have this fascination with the process. “[The restaurant is] fluid and liquid and moving and an evolving organism all the time, and we want people to see that and be a part of it,” he said. “It’s the way we cook, too. Flavors are round, and we put a lot of thought into it, and we want people to experience that.”
They plan to fuse their two cultures to create unique, but still comforting, flavors. While much of the food is from White’s childhood, they want to infuse it with creative Chilean flavors.
“I think people have this idea that [South American] food is all similar to Mexican food, but each country has its own unique cuisine, and we want to showcase that,” White said. Touching on flavor components from familiar dishes and adding creative flavors will allow even the unfamiliar to feel familiar, a careful balance between New York and Santiago.
And what would Chilean food be without its wine, or American food without beer? Comedor will feature some of the wine for which Chile is famous to pair with the food. The beer list will be comprised of craft beers, only from the U.S. White explained that right now, the U.S. is the leader in craft beers, so he wants to highlight these fun flavors by featuring microbrews and local beers. There will also be cocktails inspired by Prohibition-era classics. “It will be a little bit of something for everyone—price points and flavors,” White said.
There are only a few weeks left until the two invite the local community into Comedor, Newton’s newest dining room.
Featured Image Courtesy of Comedor