Judy Rodgers, the influential Bay Area chef, author, and owner of Zuni Cafe, died yesterday. She was 57, and had been battling a rare form of cancer.
Rodgers came up through Chez Panisse and opened Zuni Cafe on Market in 1987. Back then it had a vaguely Southwestern theme; she installed a brick oven and used her considerable talent and vision to turn it into the ingredient-driven California restaurant that it has become.
She leaves behind quite a legacy. Her Zuni Cafe Cookbook is a well-worn and beloved kitchen necessity for many amateur and professional chefs. The restaurant itself has so many splendid dishes, from the burger on rosemary focaccia bun to the impeccable selection of oysters to Caesar salad, and a wonderful, casual-yet-special atmosphere that can hardly be found anywhere else. It's a favorite of many people in and out of the food world, and it is one of the reasons I fell in love with San Francisco.More »