RIP Judy Rodgers
I haven't written here in, quite literally, years. Two young kids and all that goes with that makes it challenging. But I could not let today pass without saying a few words about Judy Rodgers, who died last night. Judy was the chef/owner of Zuni Cafe, a cornerstone of San Francisco.
Judy changed everything for me, and for so many other people. I loved going there, always, because it was a place that always felt special, but comfortable. It was what I turned to for impromptu celebrations and afternoon dates with Jon. Eating there always sort of felt like being on holiday. I remember the first time I ate there, at 22 years old, and what I thought during the meal: "Holy shit, I am a grown up." It opened my eyes.
More than that, her influence was felt far and wide, and you could see it in restaurants all over the city, all over the country, all over the world. When we visited Da Delfina in Italy, the chef told us that one of his sous chefs was staging at "not Zuni, but the other one." He meant Chez Panisse. Judy's restaurant was the kind of place that chefs went to to learn, because she did what she did so well.
I admired Judy so much for never really changing Zuni. The perfect Caesar, the oysters, the roast chicken, the burger -- they stayed because they were the best possible versions of what they were and that meant they were timeless. She stayed true.
Judy, thank you, thank you, thank you for the gifts you gave to this world while you were here. You were an inspiration to so many. You have left an amazing legacy, and sometime, soon, I know I will find myself at Zuni, raising a glass in your honor. Rest in Peace.