Over the years, Nopa has been repeatedly asked (then declined) to do a cookbook. I remember one day asking Laurence this, “Why Nopa doesn’t have a cookbook?” question and he gave a poignant reply that I’ll never forget. “Because I could never do a cookbook better than Judy Rodgers.”
That was validation of an idea I’d long carried, that Judy Rodgers, founder and chef of San Francisco’s iconic Zuni Cafe, wrote one of the best cookbooks of my lifetime. And that Judy Rodgers, Chez Panisse alum, California cuisine queen, can rest knowing she’ll always be keenly remembered for her essential California cooking: clean, proficient and delicious.
Everyone has their own Zuni chicken and bread salad love story. Mine are indulgent memories of sun-drenched afternoons overlooking Market Street, drinking Mt. Eden Chardonnay or the White Burgundy of the moment, interchangeably. Those are some of the fondest feelings that one could hold for a restaurant. It is also one of the most spectacularly glorious vibes a restaurant could ever aspire to or provide. Thank you for making that possible.
As for the crunchy, sour and cheesy Caesar Salad that everyone (rightly) proclaims the best they’ve ever had, thank you for sharing that recipe, Chef. I am reminded again of Laurence’s words and that you will always live on through your food.