Caroline Styne was raised in Los Angeles and began her work in the food service industry in 1989 when, at the age of 22, she co-founded Basically Baked Inc., producing and distributing specialty foods to retail accounts nation-wide. The company’s cornerstone product was a baked tortilla chip which Ms. Styne developed as a healthful and nutritious alternative to traditionally fatty and processed foods. The Basically Baked tortilla chip was one of the first of its kind available.
After selling the Basically Baked to a larger health food corporation in 1992, Ms. Styne followed up with her own catering company, Food Concepts; they specialized in small, intimate dining experiences in contrast to the caterer’s usual market of large, event-related dining.
Although she enjoyed the challenge of catering, Ms. Styne longed to own a restaurant of her own. In preparation she took the position of manager at Jones Hollywood, an extremely successful restaurant owned by celebrated Los Angeles restauranteur Sean MacPherson. Ms. Styne ran the daytime operation of the restaurant from August of 1994 until July of ’97 and assisted with development of the restaurant’s winelist. She played a major role in the restaurant’s reopening after a devastating fire struck in April of 1996: Ms. Styne and her staff rebuilt and reopened the completely destroyed restaurant in fewer than six weeks.
In 1997 Ms. Styne began the groundwork for opening her own restaurant. At that time a mutual friend introduced her to Suzanne Goin, the sous-chef at Campanile restaurant. The two soon decided to join forces and opened Lucques, making the most of Suzanne’s culinary talent and Caroline’s love of wine. The restaurant was an instant success and received numerous favorable reviews from such magazines as Food and Wine, which named Ms. Goin as on of its choices of “best new chefs of 1999;” Condénast Traveler which included Lucques in its annual list of “50 Hot Tables – the world’s most exciting restaurants;” and Gourmet magazine, which named LUCQUES one of the top six restaurants in Los Angeles in their October 2000 restaurant issue as well as ranking Lucques 45th in the nation in October of 2001. Bon Appétit named LUCQUES on their list of favorite restaurants in September of 2000, and Saveur magazine named LUCQUES number eight on their list of 100 favorite things in January 2000. In May of 2002 S. Irene Virbilla of the Los Angeles Times awarded Lucques 3 stars, saying that Ms. Styne and her staff members “try to do everything they can to make the evening expansive and fun.” Ms. Styne serves as the restaurant’s sommelier and wine buyer, and has received multiple Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine.
The partners’ second endeavor is A.O.C., a wine bar and restaurant located on West Third Street in Los Angeles. The restaurant features 50 wines served by the glass and small plates of food served family-style. A.O.C. and its winelist have received numerous favorable reviews from publications such as Los Angeles Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appétit. As with Lucques, A.O.C. was named one of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine’s “50 hot tables.” Ms. Styne’s winelist was named “best new winelist” by Food & Wine magazine for 2003. As at Lucques, the winelist at A.O.C. has received awards from Wine Spectator Magazine.
Ms. Styne is married to Michael Kohn, a contemporary art dealer and owner of the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. They have a daughter named Olivia.