To most of us, the sustainable food movement is a relatively recent phenomenon. But to chef/author/food activist Alice Waters, it began four decades ago, before "sustainability" was even a word. That's when she opened Chez Panisse, the Berkeley eatery that helped pioneer the now-popular concept of serving local, organic, seasonal food.
Over the last forty years, Waters and Chez Panisse have helped inspire nothing short of a culinary revolution. But these days, you won't find her in the restaurant's kitchen. Most of her time is devoted to heading the Chez Panisse Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds the SHFT-supported Edible Schoolyard, and writing books, like her latest, "40 Years at Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering".
The official Chez Panisse birthday is August 28. Among the planned festivities is a relaunch of the foundation as The Edible Schoolyard Project, which aims to build a national curriculum for food education. The star-studded guest list for the anniversary includes food luminaries like author Michael Pollan (”The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) and Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, as well as musician David Byrne, writer and editor Ruth Reichl, and actor and Edible Schoolyard ambassador Jake Gyllenhaal.
It's certainly an occasion worthy of celebration. Our congrats go out to a sustainable food legend.
For more, listen to NPR's story on Waters and Chez Panisse.
Photo: Mark Constantine / Chronicle