Judy Rodgers began her culinary education in 1973, when a benevolent fate dropped the Missouri foreign exchange student at the doorstep of the Troisgros’ family hotel and restaurant in Roanne, France. She took to pan and spatula with aplomb, and upon her graduation from Stanford University in 1978, Judy began working with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse as lunch chef. In 1980, Judy Rodgers collaborated with Marion Cunningham at the Union Hotel in Benicia, California. Her simple American fare garnered rave reviews and earned Judy a place in the 1984 inaugural roster of “Who’s Who in Cooking in America.” Judy joined Zuni Café in 1987, where she brought international acclaim to the restaurant for her brand of honest, yet sophisticated food from the heart.
In September 2002 W. W. Norton published Judy’s first book, The Zuni Café Cookbook. The book received rave reviews nationwide – from the San Francisco Chronicle to Newsweek. It was named the best cookbook of the year by the New York Times, won an IACP award, and garnered two awards from the James Beard Foundation, including the most coveted, Cookbook of the Year. On the same occasion Zuni Café received the James Beard Foundation’s top restaurant award: Outstanding Restaurant for 2003. In May of 2004, Judy was named Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.