Caroline Styne, Lucques and AOC, Los Angeles
8022 West Third St.
Los Angeles, CA
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
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
here to check out our Wine Forum and learn more about becoming a sommelier.