A number of well-known, influential chefs have died recently, including the beloved Italian cooking icon Marcella Hazan (aged 89), the Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter (54), and the San Francisco restaurateur Judy Rodgers (57).
All were very publicly mourned, but while Trotter's memorial service featured many of his restaurant’s alumni and Mark Bittman penned a lovely eulogy for Hazan, it’s Rodgers — and her famous restaurant, the Zuni Café, and seminal cookbook, The Zuni Café Cookbook — who seems to have inspired the most published memorials so far, ranging from Bay Area local to New York Times national to a heartfelt post by the Paris-based food writer David Lebovitz.
The food blog Eater even ran an opinion roundup on Rodgers’ 2002 cookbook, explaining just why the book is already such a classic:
Beyond all else, The Zuni Café Cookbook is about taking the time, making the effort. It’s about “what to cook, and when.” It’s about dishes that are hard work, but worth it. It’s a sense that it’s worth it to let a stew bubble for an extra hour on the stove, or to pickle vegetables yourself, or salt the meat an extra few days.
As Lebovitz wrote, “Whatever Judy made, was the best.”
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