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Renowned Bay Area Chef Judy Rodgers Dies

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Judy Rodgers, the pioneering chef and co-owner of Zuni Cafe since 1987, died on Monday after battling a rare form of cancer.

When most people think of the birth of California cuisine, they think of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse but in the same breath is often mentioned Judy Rodgers, who worked with Waters in her early days and then came to prominence running Zuni Cafe and writing the Zuni Cafe cookbook, which inspired many novices to replicate her iconic roast chicken and bread salad.

Gayle Pirie, chef at Foreign Cinema and one of Rodgers protégés, was barely able to hold back her tears as she told KCBS that she watched Rodgers battle a rare cancer that slowly took it toll.

“What we just don’t understand is what a bad-ass cook she was 25 years ago and she really changed how we think about food in the sense of style, technique and purity—and not being afraid to put the simplest, most delicious thing on a plate,” she said.

In 2004 Rodgers won the James Beard award for Outstanding Chef beating guys like Mario Batali and Nobu Matsuhisa.

Rodgers was 57 years old.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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