The family developed their tastes together. “When I worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley,” says Suzanne, “Mom began to think of meals differently. Instead of starting with the protein, she began thinking of vegetables first,” explains Suzanne. “She enjoys today’s entrée with asparagus, prosciutto, and eggs. It’s a modern take on Eggs Benedict with cheese rather than a rich sauce.”
All chefs are teachers, and Suzanne is used to cooking for an audience. Under the watchful eyes of her mom and godmother, she expertly seasons and grills asparagus and arranges it atop pieces of imported prosciutto . Next she neatly fries eggs and cuts shards of cheese. Then, another tasty family favorite, citrus salad, is prepared with green olives and fruity, extra-virgin olive oil . Suzanne reminds everyone to toss this salad again just before serving to combine it with the released juices and oil that have collected in the bottom of the bowl. “The combination of the citrus fruit juices and oil is what makes it delicious,” she says.
Marcia points out how childhood roles are mirrored in her daughters’ lives today. When she and her husband offered the girls a chance to earn money by helping at dinner parties, Suzanne cooked; Jessica, younger and more outgoing, served and spent time with guests. Today, Suzanne is chef and co-owner (with Caroline Styne) of Lucques and A/O/C in West Los Angeles—while Jessica mingles with guests as manager of Lucques.
”I’d plan the menu and start the food,” says the chef’s mother. ”Jessica would design and set the table. Soon, I could sit down at a beautiful table with the first course in place, and Suzanne would finish the meal. And she always had a way with flavors—adding ingredients that made everything delicious .”
Today is no exception. Jessica thinks pink flowers work with the white Richard Ginori china and rose-colored linens, and while she sets the spring table, Suzanne makes it all look easy in the kitchen.
”She has taken some dishes we love and really improved them,” says her proud mother. “I make corn cakes and serve them with smoked salmon, but Suzanne adds caviar, crème fraîche, and brown butter. She really knows what she’s doing.”
Although Marcia now understands the appeal of a chef’s life, she and her surgeon husband once had other things in mind. “When Suzanne graduated from Brown with an honors degree in political science, her dad wanted her to become the first woman Secretary of State. But she loves her work. With patients, I have a Rolodex of treatments in my mind. When Suzanne goes to market, she has a Rolodex of flavors and ideas for the food she sees.”