Long before I started shouting out, "Tall half-caf, lowfat latte for here," at Starbuck's, I was ordering full-caf, full-fat cafe au laits at Julienne in San Marino.
A friend, who was once the restaurant manager for Julienne, introduced four other Gymboree moms and me to the joys of cafe au laits and Julienne nearly 20 years ago. It was like a modern day circling of the wagons when we six moms took over the cafe's patio with our six oversized strollers filled with our bouncing bistro babies.
It didn't take long to become a fan of Susan Campoy, chef-owner of Julienne. She was one of the few females in that role at that time. The true tale of how she built a small, home-based catering business into a popular San Marino and Pasadena hot spot is practically legend. The fact that she did it after a divorce to support her four daughters is even more inspiring.
About a year ago, after I heard my name called for my doctor's appointment at the City of Hope, the nurse announced, "Oh, I'm sorry. We meant the other Susan. Susan Campoy."
I couldn't have been more excited if she had said Angelina Jolie. "Susan Campoy?" I asked. "Yes. Do you know her?" asked the nurse. "Everybody in Pasadena knows Susan Campoy," I explained. "She owns Julienne."
After that, I kept my little secret to myself - that we two Susans shared the same doctor (and perhaps the same disease) at the City of Hope.
Today I read in the LA Times that Susan Campoy died from breast cancer at the City of Hope on Wednesday. She was 70.
I, along with thousands of others, mourn her passing. Those who knew her personally and those, like me, who never met her but admired her flair for life as much as her flair for food. Those who nibbled her famous scones or sipped cafe au laits on the patio. And those who learned to cook at the kitchen she outfitted at the Village Cafe for homeless women. We will all miss Susan.
Memorial donations (of money or blood) may be made to the City of Hope.