Suzanne Goin profile
Condé Nast Traveler China
Photographer: Gina Sabatella
I’ve experienced perfection a few times dining in Los Angeles. I’m talking about the trifecta of: ingredients, flavor, and execution—when they come together in a way that makes you question what you’ve been eating all along. The first bite of the bacon-wrapped, parmesan-encrusted dates at AOC was one of those moments for me.
California cuisine has certain characteristics—light, fresh and seasonal are definitive. Consider the immaculate climate for growing fruits and vegetables; the sprawling land available for happy, pasture-raised animals. Part of the beauty of the food here is its reflection of a lifestyle that is healthy and hearty. Specifically in Los Angeles, the style has culminated into an idyllic representation of joie de vivre.
While Chef Alice Waters was at the forefront of California cuisine when she opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California in 1971, it was Wolfgang Puck who galvanized the Los Angeles scene a few years later when he came on at Ma Maison. It was a sexy, glamorous scene sparkling with movie stars—a departure from the rigid fine dining institutions that ruled the city previously. It all coincided with the nouvelle cuisine movement that was happening in Paris, which emphasized light, delicate dishes and elegant presentation. A protégé of both Chez Panisse and Ma Maison—not to mention L’Orangerie, Arpege in Paris and Campanile—Suzanne Goin is the toast of the town. Not only a brilliant chef, but also a prolific restaurateur—she owns AOC, Lucques, Tavern and multiple outposts of The Larder with her business partner and sommelier Caroline Styne. It’s no wonder she was excited to take a step out of her day-to-day and go on a foodie adventure with me in her native Los Angeles.
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