Chef Q&A: Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne of Lucques
One of West Hollywood’s most celebrated restaurants since 1998
Chef Q&A takes you inside the kitchens of our favorite West Hollywood restaurants to learn more about the chefs preparing the city’s most extraordinary dishes. In this installment, we bring you Caroline Styne, founder, and Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques.
“For years, West Hollywood has always shined colorful on the Los Angeles landscape. It’s the area of town that has really fostered creativity and exploration as the center of design, fashion, and now more than ever, food,” says Caroline Styne, who founded and opened Lucques with Chef Suzanne Goin in 1998. The rustic setting has always showcased market-driven, seasonal dishes with a French touch, and they’ve been racking up incredible accolades since they opened in 1998.
West Hollywood’s dining scene would certainly not be what it is today without Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin. We sat down for a Q&A to learn where they’ve been and where they are headed.
What was the original mission of Lucques?
Suzanne Goin: The original idea that Caroline and I had was to open a place that we would want to go to. A place where we would feel comfortable and happy. That sort of blend of comfort along with the transporting feeling a restaurant can have—where you feel like you are somewhere special—where the light is just right, and the music good, and you feel welcomed and brought into a new and different experience. And I really just wanted to cook the food I love without the restrictions of it being French or Italian, fine-dining or casual.
Is that vision still the same today or has it evolved?
Suzanne Goin: I would say that the vision is the same. It has grown and evolved as we have grown and evolved, but it’s still very personal. It’s been wonderful to explore new cuisines and take on the influences of some of our cooks and employees along the way. We have a history now that has so many parts to it. I think that age and history have definitely made us more developed and deeper.
Tell us a little about the partnership you both have and how it helps create the dishes and the atmosphere that people have come to know and love about the restaurant.
Caroline Styne: I feel so fortunate to have met Suzanne and literally call her my restaurant soul mate and best friend. From day one, we have maintained an intensely shared vision for every aspect of the restaurant and a great sense of mutual respect. At this point, we literally finish each other’s sentences. We also care very much for every member of our staff and truly look at them as our extended family.
Is there anything you’d love to bring back—either a dish or a moment—from the last 20 plus years if you could?
Caroline Styne: I have actually loved every moment of our life at Lucques. So, it’s hard to nail down one moment. I do miss Suzanne’s foie gras terrine, though.
Why should every visitor make time to dine in West Hollywood and how is it a different dining landscape today than ever before?
Suzanne Goin: There are so many more restaurants! Chefs from all over the country are coming to LA to open. I’m a native, so I remember back in the day when New Yorkers and San Franciscans used to make fun of L.A. There is much more freedom and diversity in the different styles of restaurants and even where restaurants are opening.
I think West Hollywood has a relaxed and creative joie de vivre to it that you don’t necessarily find all over the city. People are relaxed and really just want to have a good time.