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Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe Chef, Dies at Age 57 [UPDATED]

judy-rodgers.jpgJudy Rodgers, the legendary owner and chef of Zuni Cafe, passed away yesterday at the age of 57. She had been ill for some time with what mentee Gayle Pirie described as "a rare cancer that slowly metastasized over a series of years," which ultimately led to debilitating symptoms and a life-threatening surgery. After Rodgers' passing spread through the Twittersphere, Inside Scoop confirmed the news with her friend and co-owner Gilbert Pilgram; the restaurant will be open today, for those who wish to drop by and express condolences.

Brought to the Bay Area as an art history undergraduate at Stanford, Rodgers became enamored with Chez Panisse after dining there, and began working with Alice Waters. After cooking in France and New York City, Rodgers was lured back to take over Zuni (which had previously been a Southwestern restaurant) in 1987. The restaurant became an iconic locus of California cuisine, and Rodgers' famous roast chicken with bread salad, roasted in the brick oven, an internationally renowned dish.

Rodgers and Zuni took home the James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurant in 2003 and Outstanding Chef in 2004. Rodgers was also known for her bestselling cookbook The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant. The book won the Beard Award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View as well as Cookbook of the Year in 2003; the same year, it should be noted, that Zuni Cafe won Outstanding Restaurant. The cookbook also won an IACP award that year.

Here is a video of Rodgers accepting her Outstanding Chef JBFA in 2004.

Video: Judy Rodgers Wins the 2004 JBFA for Outstanding Chef

Reactions from the food world on Twitter:

Update, 2:11 pm: The Washington Post reports that Rodgers died of cancer of the appendix, with Pilgram as the source. Pilgram says he'll continue to run the kitchen at Zuni.

Further Reading

· Judy Rodgers Is Gone [Gurgling Cod]
· Judy Rodgers [David Lebovitz]

· Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe dies [Inside Scoop]
· Outstanding Chef 2004 [JBFA]
· Eater Elements: Zuni Cafe's Roast Chicken [~ EN ~]
· All Judy Rodgers coverage [~ ESF ~]
Judy Rodgers. [Photo: F&W / Courtesy Judy Rodgers]

Zuni Cafe

1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Visit Website