Chez Panisse, located in Berkely, Calif., opened its doors in 1971. Named after a trilogy of classic films by Marcel Pagnol, the restaurant was founded by a group of idealists, including, of course, Alice Waters. The menu changes daily, as you can only order a 3-4 course prix fixe menu. With reservations only, the restaurant is designed to feature seasonal and locally grown foods. Prices also vary by night of the week, ranging from $55 Mondays to $85 Saturdays, per person, before tax and gratuity. In 1980, an affiliated Cafe opened upstairs to the restaurant, to provide an a la carte alternative to the downstairs restaurant.
Originally French cuisine, much of Waters’ inspiration behind the menu comes from France. Her affinity for locally grown organic produce came from the practices she saw in France upon visiting, and she made it her goal to capture and master that way of cooking back in California. She exceeded her goal by not only bringing a different way of eating and thinking to the Western world, and West coast for that matter, but by creating a new sort of cuisine altogether: California cuisine.
In 2007, her restaurant was among the Top 50 Best Restaurants in the World, while in 2006, it came in at 20, among other notables like Charlie Trotter’s and Alan Ducasse’s restaurants.
Most of the books Alice Waters has written have been about her restaurant Chez Panisse. Other topics include supporting local farms, and purchasing seasonal produce. Here’s a list of just some of her books:
California Fresh Harvest: A Seasonal Journey through Northern California (California Fresh)
Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
Chez Panisse Cooking
Chez Panisse Fruit
Chez Panisse Vegetables
Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook
Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza, Calzone
Fanny at Chez Panisse : A Child’s Restaurant Adventures with 46 Recipes, a storybook and cookbook for children
Slow Food : The Case for Taste (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
She is releasing a new book this coming Tuesday, October 2, called The Art of Simple Food.
The Edible Schoolyard Project
With huge influence in the city of Berkeley, Calif., Alice has set to teaching kids about the importance of the slow food movement. The Slow Food movement defines the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and not eating food for convenience-sake, but rather for quality sake. Many have written on the topic and reached out to make change, but few have approached the matter as Alice has: by teaching the children.
The project, administered through Martin Luther King Jr. schools, provides students with a one-acre organic garden, and a kitchen classroom to apply slow food movement concepts. Students can learn how to grow, maintain, and cook their own produce. With the concept called “from seed to table,” program administrators hope children will better learn the connection between what they eat and where it comes from. To read the message Alice Waters sends in regards to this program, click here.
Organic and Seasonal Food Movement
“Alice and Chez Panisse have become convinced that the best-tasting food is organically grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound, by people who are taking care of the land for future generations,” – a quote from Chez Panisse.com
For her restaurant’s cuisine, Alice put together a network of over 60 local organic food suppliers. She is very curious about each vegetable or fruit she picks up at farmer’s markets. She claims an inquisitive nature is best while picking out your produce. To view the New York Times video of Alice Waters assessing farmer’s market produce, click here.
New York Times
Top 50 Best Restaurants in the World