#0001 — 12.16.20
Sunday Suppers at LuCques
When, in May of 2020, I read that Lucques restaurant had closed its doors for good, I cried crocodile tears. My reaction caught even me, an avid lover of Suzanne Goin's cooking, a little off guard. Yes, I have cooked my way through the entirety of Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and my first meal there was the one most food-lovers can reflect back on as the moment that things changed forever. But the thing that really got me was the fact that they didn't get to celebrate; they didn't get to go out with a bang. After 20 years of culinary magic, Lucques just quietly faded from sight.
The reason, of course, for the lack of pomp and circumstance was the global pandemic that has taken out so many special food beacons around America. The unique thing about the Lucques story, though, is that it wasn't the pandemic that made them choose closure. Suzanne and her team had made that decision before March came and changed all our lives. The why has not been made clear, but I would guess that it might fall somewhere in the realm of "even beautiful things must someday die" and/or "20 years is a long time to keep doing the same thing." Truthfully, Lucques lived a good, long life, and Suzanne's food continues to live on at her other LA restaurants. What's more, her recipes live on in her cookbooks.
Sunday Suppers at Lucques is hands-down my favorite cookbook of all time. So much so that I would consider Suzanne, who I've never met, my unofficial cooking teacher. She taught me about seasonality and the importance of excellent ingredients and that plastic wrap (the good, stretchy, restaurant kind) can go in the oven. Her Sunday supper menus inspired my own and catalyzed my supper club in Downtown LA. Like any good teacher, she instilled in me a love for the things that she loves: braised meats, really good salads in all seasons, and cultured sweet cream butter sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes. To call her my muse isn't perfectly accurate: she might be something more like a fairy godmother, minus the pudge and the nightgown.