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. By 1994, she was managing restaurants and teamed with celebrated restaurateur Sean MacPherson at Jones, in Hollywood. While there, she was introduced to Suzanne Goin. The meeting was life-changing for both and led to the opening of their flagship restaurant, Lucques, in 1998. With Suzanne’s culinary talent and Caroline’s business acumen they made a formidable creative team.
The restaurant met with instant success and their efforts helped her partner to be recognized as one of Food and Wine magazine’s “Best New Chefs” 1999. Lucques received praise from Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet, Bon Appétit and Saveur, including a prestigious 3 star review by the Los Angeles Times. Caroline has served as the restaurant’s sommelier and wine director from the beginning, and has received multiple Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine.
The partners’ second endeavor was a.o.c., located on West Third Street in Los Angeles in 2002, featuring the groundbreaking concept of Caroline’s selections of inspired wines by the glass and Suzanne’s small plates menu. In its opening year, the restaurant received numerous favorable reviews and was named one of Conde Nast Traveler’s“50 hot tables and “best new wine list” by Food & Wine magazine. As at Lucques, the wine list at a.o.c. has received awards from Wine Spectator magazine.
Tavern, the third venture by Caroline and Suzanne, opened in 2009. The Brentwood location serves as a casual neighborhood meeting place, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a full retail market from the Tavern Larder.
Inspired by the success of their more casual Larder section of Tavern, Caroline and Suzanne opened The Larder at Maple Drive in the Fall of 2011 followed by The Larder at Burton Way in Spring 2013 at Rick Caruso’s luxurious 8500 Burton Way complex on the edge of Beverly Hills. The newest Larder outpost is The Larder at LAX which opened in the sleek and newly renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles’s airport in December 2013.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of a.o.c., Caroline and Suzanne moved their beloved restaurant a mile west on 3rd Street to the iconic restaurant space that formerly housed Joe Allen and Orso. With one of the most beautiful outdoor garden settings in Los Angeles, a cozy wine room upstairs, a new cocktail program and an acclaimed wine list of sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines curated by Caroline, the new space is an absolute hit and has been embraced by the public.
Suzanne’s second book, The A.O.C. Cookbook, also published by Alfred A. Knopf, debuted in October 2013 to glowing reviews in both the United States and Canada. The cookbook is a collection of seasonal recipes from the restaurant with wine notes by Caroline and a complete section devoted to cheese, a major component to the a.o.c. menu.
In December 2013, Caroline and Suzanne launched The Larder Baking Company, a new wholesale operation for the breads and bakery goods developed with partner and master baker Nathan Dakdouk. The expanded production services all of their restaurants and retail operations in addition to supplying other restaurants and retail markets throughout greater Los Angeles and California.
Caroline has her hand in producing her own wines: Jules Harrison, a Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, J&H, a un-oaked chardonnay from Napa Valley. She has been written about in in GQ, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal and appears regularly on wine panels for her expertise, including Food & Wine Aspen, Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, Los Angeles “The Food Event, ”Zagat, and ABC television.
As Wine Director, Caroline is nationally recognized for her expertise in the restaurants’ much-admired wine programs. Food & Wine named a.o.c. Best New Wine List of 2003. The restaurant also received the prestigious Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator three times and was named among the 100 Best Wine Restaurants 2015 by Wine Enthusiast. When she introduced an entirely new list at a.o.c. in 2013 that included only wines produced from biodynamic, sustainable or organic farming practices, the restaurant was praised by The Los Angeles Times. In 20016, a.o.c. was named among best Wine Bars in Los Angeles by Thrillist and Eater LA. a.o.c. is consistently applauded for their imaginative craft cocktails that mirror the farmers’ market influence of Suzanne Goin’s seasonal menus.
Caroline’s hospitality philosophy and keen business acumen has been a major contribution to the growth of The Lucques Group since the opening of their first restaurant. Today, she oversees business affairs at the company’s ten operations in Los Angeles, all of which are considered among the best in the city. She has received four personal nominations as Restaurateur of Year and shared another nomination with partner Suzanne Goin when Lucques was honored for Best Service by the James Beard Foundation. In 2014, Caroline was one of a distinguished panel of jurors for the James Beard Foundation that served as the judging authority for the year’s Restaurant Design Awards.
Caroline and Suzanne, along with David Lentz – Suzanne’s husband and owner of The Hungry Cat – are co-founders of L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade, their fundraiser benefiting research for childhood cancer which has raised over $3.7 million since its inception in 2010.
Caroline, Suzanne and Lucques Catering served as official caterers for the annual SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards for four consecutive years. In 2011 and 2012, Caroline and Suzanne were honored to have been selected to prepare fundraising dinners for both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
In Summer of 2016, Caroline Styne and Suzanne Goin and The Lucques Group debuted all new culinary operations at the famed Hollywood Bowl, which include 16 concepts for full service dining, takeaway foods and picnics.
Caroline Styne is married to Michael Kohn, a contemporary art dealer and owner of the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. They have a daughter, Olivia and a son, Jules.