In 1971, a young Montessori teacher with no cooking experience beyond having friends to dinner inspired some of these friends to help her open a restaurant in Berkley, serving one perfectly delicious meal each night. In Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, Alice Waters gives a lively history of how this modest beginning grew into a mecca that helped catalyze the rise of local food culture. Photos and ephemera that evoke each decade come alive through vivid little stories from 90 other collaborators and patrons—the chefs, waiters, fishmongers, farmers, winemakers, bakers, food writers, and friends who grew with the restaurant into an extended, cross-generational family.
First galvanized by political action at UCLA in the mid-‘60s, Waters experienced a more personal revolution in Europe: Paris taught her how food “anchored life to the land” and café culture built community; in London, she devoured the culinary classics Elizabeth David, internalizing her ethic of seeking fresh, local ingredients and “leaving well alone”; and in Greece and Turkey, she awakened to the transformative power of hospitality. Backed by an inventive crew, Waters brought all these elements to life at Chez Panisse, buying directly from growers (giving them, for the first time, bylines on the menu) and cultivating a hospitality that extended into the community through incredible parties and initiatives like the Edible Schoolyard Project. Beyond creating four decades of memorable meals, Chez Panisse demonstrated how restaurants can shift America''s cultural relationship to agriculture and eating, a change that gains momentum each year. Destined to become a food-lit classic, this gorgeous volume pays homage to the power of gathering around a table, culminating in this luscious truth: "ripeness is all." --Mari Malcolm
Chez Panisse opened its doors in 1971. Founded by Alice Waters, the restaurant is rooted in her conviction that the best-tasting food is organic, locally grown, and harvested in ecologically sound ways by people who are taking care of the land for future generations. The quest for such ingredients has always determined the restaurant’s cuisine, and, over the course of forty years, Chez Panisse has helped create a community of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients.
In Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, Alice takes readers on her journey from the humble and visionary beginnings of the restaurant, through its rise and the acclaim, to the Café and the influential Chez Panisse Foundation. Organized by decade, the book includes a wealth of archival material and photographs—menus; invitations; pictures of Alice at the restaurant and around the world, with those who have passed through her life—and interviews from public figures and cooks who have been inspired by or mentored at the restaurant.
This tribute to the delicious food revolution that began with Alice Waters and Chez Panisse is an important work for anyone who cares about food, sustainability, and the powerful legacy that Alice has built.
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