Food Interviews

An Interview with Executive Chef Ignacio Gonzales of Meeting Street Cafe

The iconic Providence deli caters to requests and serves breakfast all day.

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Famous for serving breakfast all day long as well as the largest, most colossal cookies this side of the Mississippi, Meeting Street Cafe has been filling the bellies of hungry East Side residents, students and visitors since 1984. Executive Chef Ignacio Gonzales has been working at the establishment for 17 years after moving here from Guatemala in 1999. He prepares every dish with love and care, taste testing each recipe himself to ensure it’s just right before adding it to the menu and preparing it for his guests. Owner David Mcallister says Gonzales is like family and credits him with helping expand his business.

Here Ignacio talks about catering to requests, using fresh, wholesome ingredients and the cafe’s new fall offerings.

What’s your motto when it comes to cooking?

Always prepare and serve the best food and you have to work as a team to get the job done. The other day a guy came in and asked for chicken parm, which isn’t on the menu. He really wanted it. So I made him chicken parm and he was so excited. Another person came in wanting chicken alfredo and I made that for him even though it’s not on the menu either. For me, cooking isn’t about the money – it’s about making people happy.

We also offer gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options so there’s something for everyone.

Are there breakfast dishes you go back to time and time again?
There are several. The Breakfast Skillet, which is served with sausage, tomatoes, peppers, onion, mushrooms and home fries and two eggs on top, the house made Corned Beef Hash and the Lobster Benedict with homemade Hollandaise sauce.

Sounds fantastic. What should we be having for lunch and dinner?
For lunch or dinner, have the Fish and Chips or the Healthy Salmon Plate, which is great for the health conscious person. It comes with steamed vegetables and white rice.

Our most popular dish is the Grilled Chicken Club. It’s chicken breast with bacon and mayonnaise on toasted wheat bread. Other popular menu items are the Wild Salmon Skillet, the Chicken Shish Kabob and the Chicken and Vegetables Plate. People also love the Thanksgiving Sandwich with hot turkey, house made stuffing, mayo and cranberry sauce.

Tell me about your famous colossal cookies.
We have ten flavors: chocolate chunk, garbage, oatmeal raisin, peanut chocolate chunk, sugar, chewy chocolate, macadamia white chocolate, oatmeal chocolate chip, ginger spice and peanut butter. I make them fresh every day. Well, every day but Wednesday. That’s my day off and I spend it with my three-year-old daughter. When people first see the cookies they say they’re expensive. When they try them they say, “Oh, it’s so good!” and they always come back for another one.

Do you have any new dishes up your sleeve for fall?
A Crab Cake Benedict. I’ll deep fry the crab and serve it on an English muffin with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce. I’m also doing a Seafood Pasta with shrimp, clams and swordfish. I enjoy trying new recipes so there will probably be some other fall specials too.

Name five items that can always be found in your fridge at home?
Steak, salmon, haddock, shrimp and a lot of fresh vegetables. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only eat one thing I’d choose salmon – or any seafood really.