Bethany Clough

Supermodel Tyra Banks ate at this Fresno restaurant and the internet’s buzzing about it

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Where does a supermodel like Tyra Banks eat while in Fresno? And what did her limo driver have to do with it?

Banks’ meal during a visit to Fresno for the Central California Women’s Conference has the internet all atwitter. She ate at one of Fresno’s tiniest but most popular restaurants: Chef Paul’s Cafe.

Tuesday, the restaurant, at 952 F St. in Chinatown in downtown Fresno, posted a picture of Banks and chef Paul Pearson on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. Banks is popping a hip in a model pose with her arm around Pearson.

The post said: “While in Fresno today Ms. Tyra Banks had a few things on her agenda... 1) She was the headlining speaker during the Central California Women’s Conference and 2) Stop by Chef Paul’s Cafe for a private luncheon. Tyra, thank you for coming in today... it was our pleasure to host you.”

How did she end up there, especially since the restaurant is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays?

Chef Paul explained: “Her limo driver is a really good friend of mine. … He called me and asked me if I would open for her and her friends.”

Obviously, he agreed. Of course, we had to ask him what she ate.

“She ate some pork chops, some fried chicken, dirty rice, and greens, and mac and cheese, and all those goodies,” he said.

That’s basically everything Chef Paul’s is known for, except for the oxtail soup and fried green tomatoes.

The restaurant is typically open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. It gets a top rating on Yelp.com and Pearson also runs a catering business.

“She’s a very, very, very, very interesting individual,” Pearson added. “She was very pleasant. She’s so down to earth. She was more concerned about my business and how I was doing.”

While Banks’ meal was a private affair, she spoke Tuesday to thousands as the keynote speaker at the women’s conference at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center.

During her visit, she also marveled over the Giant Sequioas and the rhino at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and taught attendees how to “smize” (smile with your eyes). Part of that smize lesson included imagining something you really want, like fried chicken, she said.

Banks has family in Fresno, she told The Bee before her visit here. And despite having a supermodel body, she appears to appreciate good food.

“My dad asks me every year to come to the family reunion and I just haven’t come. It’s all about the food,” she joked. “I have to see what the menu is ahead of time.”

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Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.
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