CAV, one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, is known for its eclectic global fare, and warm setting filled with antiques and artwork – and for its irrepressible owner, Sylvia Moubayed, who passed away unexpectedly last year. We sat down with Chef David Firda to discuss why the restaurant is unique to the city, how he is honoring Sylvia and what menu items you can’t miss out on.
CAV recently lost their beloved owner, and now her sons are running the restaurant. How is the team honoring her legacy?
CAV was inspired by Sylvia’s desire to make a difference in the world she loved. Her uplifting spirit, combined with her unconventional nature and force of will, allowed her to create a unique space that restored her customers. Staff and patrons alike are grateful to have known and loved her. We continue to honor her by carrying on her mission and striving for excellence.
What makes the restaurant stand out?
First, it’s the food. Second, it’s the environment. Sylvia fled Egypt and spent a year in the Ituri Forest in the Congo. It is there that she developed her love for African art and that passion is reflected in the decor. She was unconventional – some might have used the word “eccentric” – and didn’t believe in formulas or conventions. CAV stands out for this reason; it is truly unique and reflects her sense of aesthetics, abundance and attention to detail.
Let’s talk about food. What are the must-try’s?
Everyone should experience the calamari and crab cake. The Walnut-Encrusted Brie, Seared Diver Scallops and Seared Shrimp over lemon zest risotto, Poulet aux Poires, Duck Confit with blood orange demi glace and Tenderloin Filet Bordelaise are also standouts.
What inspires your creations?
The seasons, visiting farms and spending time with family and friends. I strive to be organized in both my professional and personal lives, which helps free my mind for creativity. I am searching for what Sylvia used to describe as that “burst of flavor,” as she would gesture with her fingers pulled together at her mouth!
You had a unique journey to fine dining.
Having grown up in a farm community, food and my friendships with farmers guided an interest in all things culinary. In my 20s, I had a successful career in retail management, but I felt unfulfilled. A friend urged me to take advantage of chef seminars in Boston, and that really fueled my interest and spurred me to switch careers. Cooking is not what I do, it is what I am.
14 Imperial Place