Andrew Zimmern Recalls Puck's Rooster Balls; Suzanne Goin '84 Spent Senior Ditch Day at Ma Maison

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Goin with husband David Lentz Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

Today Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern praises the locals in HuffPo, as he readies for a friendly reception at his Friday pop-up dinner at Royal/T. As to L.A.'s restaurant scene coming into its own, the bald New Yorker (who's gripping what we only hope is the world's most phallic geoduck in the photo) gives due praise to chef Suzanne Goin (along with a recollection of rooster balls being served at Chinois). The "very pro-marijuana" Zimmern says of Goin's contributions, "When rustic Italian/French-influenced farmhouse cooking started being done at the level it was being done at Lucques...I think something magical happened in LA." It just so happens that Goin, a graduate of Hancock Park's Marlborough, details her own origins today in the school's alumni newsletter.

While her friends were probably off foraging for mushrooms and shoulder-tapping, Goin took her passion for cooking to a higher level during her senior year of high school. She writes on Marlborough's website, "Back then the school had 'senior projects,' which was basically two weeks off from your senior year to explore a passion...I immediately went and got an externship at Ma Maison, the restaurant of the time where Wolfgang Puck got his start in L.A."

The bold young student says she simply, "just went and knocked on the door and asked if I could work for free. They were a little surprised but said, 'I guesswhy not?'"

Her experience at the restaurant lead to Goin's eventual kitchen job at Al Forno in Rhode Island, while she was a student at Brown, being pushed towards a graduate degree by her father. As the industry drew her in, she explains, "I remember having this sinking feeling that what I really wanted to do was going to disappoint a lot of people."

Fortunately, for Zimmern and L.A., Goin stayed the path before her, moving on to Campanile and eventually opening Lucques with Caroline Styne, an experience she calls "terrifying." We can only imagine her Dad was made really proud, with or without grad school.

Andrew Zimmern's 'California Dreaming' Pop-Up At Royal/T Cafe [HuffPo]
Alumna Spotlight: Suzanne Goin Lentz '84 [Marlborough School]