Cori Goudge-Ayer credits Cabrillo College’s culinary program for igniting her passion for food and cooking. Goudge-Ayer went on to attend the California Culinary Academy before returning to Santa Cruz and opening Persephone in 2016. She says her cuisine showcases the region’s diverse bounty.
The parmesan budino, a savory custard paired with seasonal veggies, is a signature appetizer, and the truffle pasta with artisanal cheese sauce is beloved. Another consistent hit is the chicken with seasonal stuffing: lemon, thyme and ricotta. For dessert, diners gravitate to the panna cotta featuring a rotating roster of fruit accompaniments—the chocolate gelato and sorbet trio are also go-tos.
Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 5-8:30pm for indoor and outdoor dining—the monthly winemaker dinners are highly recommended. GT asked Goudge-Ayer to expound on the philosophies behind Persephone.
Why is presentation important to you?
CORI GOUDGE-AYER: Because we eat with our eyes first. It’s also a creative outlet for me; I look at food as my medium, just like an artist would with paint, and treat the edge of the plate as my frame. Monet, along with my mom, have been major sources of my artistic inspiration. I like making art that you can eat.
What inspires you about using local, seasonal ingredients?
When you get food at the peak of ripeness, the flavors are incomparable. Growing up here, we are so lucky to have such a bountiful cornucopia of local ingredients. We have access to farms for produce and meat and the ocean for seafood. The sense of community that this engenders comes through in the food. I love knowing where my food comes from and having direct input from the farmers on what is planted. Sustainability is also important to me.
Persephone, 7945 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 831-612-6511; persephonerestaurant.com