My friend and food blogger Lady Ducayne has two, count ‘em, two websites tucked neatly under her belt: The original Lady Ducayne blog and now as the highlighted restaurant blogger for SantaClarita.com, SCV Eats with Lady Ducayne Blog. Lady Ducayne, who prefers to work anonymously, has succinctly reigned in all of the attention from local restaurants…luckily for me, she doesn’t drink. (2017 Editor’s Note: Lady Ducayne reviews can now be found at http://eatscv.com/)
I met the Lady herself through one of her tweet-ups that she sometimes organizes to introduce her followers to a Lady Ducayne-approved restaurant. I learned from that first meeting and through reading her blog that she doesn’t pull any punches when met with mediocre dish and never fails to praise when a chef makes a dish bloom.
So here are my five questions that I thought SCV Beacon readers would want the answers to:
EB: I know that your reviews are your opinions alone, but it’s clearly obvious that you are a “foodie.” Tell us, how did you learn so much about food?
LD: I always say I’m just a hungry girl with a camera, and I’ve been that way ever since I can remember! The credit goes to my parents, because from such a young age they always took me out to try the latest and greatest eats throughout Los Angeles, and beyond. We also traveled a lot, whether it was a quick road trip up the coast, or gaining some stamps on my passport, I feel that those experiences shaped who I am today. I’m a traveler, not a tourist, and even street food in a different country has never let me down.
Now that I’m older, I’ve learned so much more about how the restaurant industry works and what goes on inside a professional kitchen from my better half. He is a professional cook and currently works at a well regarded, award-winning restaurant on Fairfax in Los Angeles. I’m not as quick to judge a place anymore, and when something goes wrong during a meal, or I complain about something seemingly trivial, he explains the possible causes to me. I feel this helps my writing in that I can see things more objectively.
EB: You don’t call restaurants ahead, and arrange for interviews over their best dishes like other reporters do. Can you tell us why?
LD: I don’t consider myself a reporter, I’m just a customer with a camera. Ever since I can remember, friends have always asked me where they should go out to eat, and the blog started as a place to make it easier to show them. I also feel that you get a more genuine experience that way. A large majority of my posts are just from me going to lunch after work or heading out to dinner with a group of friends. My motive for going to these places is that I was hungry and needed a place to eat, since I don’t cook at home. I just happen to always have my camera in my purse. If a place is worth writing about (be it good or bad) then I’ll do it. I just want to keep it genuine and not forget the essence of why I started the blog.
EB: Professional photographs always accompany your reviews. Is it difficult to remain anonymous in a restaurant when you whip out a real camera instead of a cell phone to take your mouth-watering photos?
LD: Yes! I have a DSLR and I try to be as discreet as possible when taking photos, which is incredibly difficult! I also want to snap the perfect photo before the food gets cold so I try to be quick and stealthy. Funny, because I always joke that I know my friends don’t read my blog, they just look at the photos.
EB: Tell us what some of your favorite SCV restaurants are.
LD: My favorite restaurant in Santa Clarita is Sabor Cocina Mexicana located in the Bridgeport Marketplace. It reminds me of my travels to San Miguel de Allende. For a quick after school meal, you can find me at Rustic Eatery eating a prime cut sandwich on house made bread, served with a side of fresh cut fries. I’ve actually overheard a couple of customers come in and mention to the owner that they read about Rustic from “Lady Ducayne’s website” and I just get so embarrassed and quietly keep eating my sandwich. I’m flattered, of course, but I still think my friends are the only ones that visit the site.
EB: Of the restaurants in town that haven’t fared well in your reviews, what were some of the reasons? Lack or originality? Fresh ingredients? Service?
LD: Getting decent service is a huge problem in Santa Clarita. Lack of communication between front of house and back of house is evident in many local restaurants. At a majority of the places that have come and gone from SCV, the common factor I’ve noticed is that the owners seemed to be more interested in looking good and walking around and talking about themselves, instead of focusing on the food coming out of the kitchen. In LA, Bill Chait is a successful restaurateur, but he’s not above bussing a dirty table or refilling a water glass. When I go to a place, I like to see real heart and genuine concern in providing a great experience to diners, which is why I like supporting mom and pop restaurants locally. I try to avoid chains, except once a year when I get the Red Lobster cheddar biscuit craving.
If a place is absolutely dreadful, and I decide to post about it, I’ll omit the name or make it a blind item. I haven’t done that in a while because I haven’t had a terrible experience lately, and if I did then it wasn’t worth writing about. Most of those places don’t last long anyway. Having said that, I just ate the worst slice of tiramisu in my life over by Tesoro del Valle. I’ve been contemplating a post titled “Sad Tiramisu” but haven’t quite figured out how I want to go about it. I feel like that place lacks customers so they just gave up. The pastries look sad, the workers look bored, and no care is taken into plating or presentation. If you go through the trouble and risk involved in opening a restaurant, a little heart and soul (and research) goes a long way. Open a cookbook, look at what pastry chefs are doing at their own bakeries, find inspiration, and customers will come.
EB: I couldn’t help myself, but in adding a sixth question, I have to know why the name Lady Ducayne?
I don’t get that question as often as one would think so thanks for asking! I majored in English Literature as an undergrad, and right around the time period I was contemplating a blog, my professor assigned a short story titled Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I couldn’t come up with a name for my site (and didn’t want to use my real name of course) but as I was procrastinating on my reading assignment, and probably doodling in the margins, it just clicked, and that’s how I became known as Lady Ducayne.