Alice Waters

Alice Waters

Alice Waters
Waters at the US Embassy in Berlin, February 2015
Born (1944-04-28) April 28, 1944
Chatham Borough, New Jersey, U.S.
Culinary career
Cooking style California
from the BBC programme The Food Programme, December 1, 2013.[1]

Alice Louise Waters (born April 28, 1944) is an American chef, restaurateur, activist, and author. She is the owner of California cuisine.[2]

Waters opened the restaurant in 1971. Waters has been cited as one of the most influential figures in food in the past 50 years, and has been called the mother of American food. She is currently one of the most visible supporters of the

  • Bio from
  • Works by or about Alice Waters in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • CA Organic School Lunch Program
  • Table Conversations podcast interview with Alice Waters.
  • WSJ: Ameya Money Went to Waters, Not Slow Food
  • Alice Waters on The California Museum's California Legacy Trails
  • Alice Waters Advocates For Slow And Fresh Food
  • Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard

External links

  • Mcnamee, Thomas. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution.  

Further reading

  1. ^ "Alice Waters". The Food Programme. December 1, 2013.  
  2. ^ Straus, Karen Cope (June 1997). "Alice Waters: Earth Mother of California Cuisine".  
  3. ^ Finz, Stacy (2010-05-09). "Alice Waters' Push for Local, Organic Setting National Agenda". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-17. For nearly 40 years, 'St. Alice', as she's been called for her unrepentant views, has touted the importance of eating local, organically grown food. 
  4. ^ CBS News (2009-06-04). "Alice Waters' Crusade for Better Food". 60 Minutes. Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-29. In her interview, Waters says 'I feel that good food should be a right and not a privilege and it needs to be without pesticides and herbicides. And everybody deserves this food.' 
  5. ^ Chez Panisse website. "Alice Waters, Executive Chef, Founder and Owner". Retrieved 2010-07-29. [Waters] is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is 'good, clean, and fair'. 
  6. ^ Dowd, Maureen (2009-04-28). "Chef Waters' Vision Becomes Hot Topic".  
  7. ^ Martin, Andrew (1996-08-14). "Times Topics: People: Alice Waters".  
  8. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary".  
  9. ^ "Chef Alice’s Way of Life". 
  10. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary".  
  11. ^ "". Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  12. ^ Orenstein, Peggy (2004-03-07). "Food Fighter: Food Revolutionary". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-04. Waters has always been as much activist as restaurateur. Her passion for simply prepared food using the freshest ingredients first blossomed in the French markets she wandered as a student in Paris, then marinated in the counterculture of 1960's Berkeley. A result was a melding of politics and pleasure. She considers food a vehicle – the vehicle – for social change. 
  13. ^ Crawford, Leslie (1999-11-16). "Alice Waters". Retrieved 2010-08-04. During her college years, she was involved with local politics, working for the congressional campaign of journalist Robert Scheer, who to her great dismay was defeated... While so many of her compatriots seem to have long ago abandoned their mission, Waters has maintained a crusader's energy, intent on changing the world, one fava bean at a time. 
  14. ^ Waters, Alice; Liittschwager, David; Duane, Daniel (2008). Edible Education: a Universal Idea. Chronicle Books. 
  15. ^ Orenstein, Peggy (2004-03-07). "Food Fighter: Food Revolutionary". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  16. ^ McNamee, Thomas (2007). Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Penguin Books. p. 36.  
  17. ^ Tirella, Joseph V. (2009-08-28). "". Retrieved 2010-08-04. My family never dined at restaurants. I didn't know anything about them until I traveled to France in 1964 in my junior year of college. That's when my whole world opened up. Everything was so beautiful there. I even remember my first French meal: a brothy root-vegetable soup with lots of parsley and garlic. It was amazing. 
  18. ^ Whiting, John (2002). "The Evolution of Chez Panisse". Retrieved 2010-07-29. [Olney] became, along with Elizabeth David, an important culinary influence. 
  19. ^ Olney, Richard (1994). Lulu's Provencal Table: The exuberant food and wine from the Domaine Tempier vineyard. HarperCollins. p. xi.  
  20. ^ Janet Fletcher (2007-10-27). "Cecilia Chiang's epic journey". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  21. ^ "Cecilia Sun Yun Chiang". the Asian Pacific Fund. 2004. 
  22. ^ Meredith Brody (2009-09-16). "Local Heavies to Celebrate Cecilia Chiang, the Julia Child of Chinese Cooking". SF Weekly. 
  23. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary".  
  24. ^ Chez Panisse. "About Chez Panisse". Retrieved 2010-07-29. Chez Panisse has established a network of nearby suppliers who, like the restaurant are striving for both environmental harmony and delicious flavor. 
  25. ^ "'"Cafe Fanny closing tomorrow after 28 years: 'It's just not economically viable anymore.. The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  26. ^ Leavenworth, Stuart (2009-05-28). "The Chef Apprentice: After 37 Years, Alice Waters Still Searches for a Slow Food Life". Sacramento Bee. 
  27. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  28. ^ "James Beard Foundation". Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  29. ^ "Alice Waters – 2007". 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  30. ^ Rayner, Jay; Cooke, Rachel; Miers, Thomasina (2010-08-13). "50 Best Cookbooks of All Time". The Observer (London). 
  31. ^ "Guesthouse - Yahoo Corporate Single Login". Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  32. ^ The 2011 International Raw Food Restaurant Directory, Ki Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-908021-00-7.
  33. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary".  
  34. ^ Chez Panisse. "Foundation and Mission". Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  35. ^ Chez Panisse. "Foundation and Mission". Retrieved 2010-07-29. “The Foundation envisions a curriculum, integrated with the school dining services, in which growing, cooking, and sharing food at the table gives students the knowledge and values to build a humane and sustainable future.” 
  36. ^ Chez Panisse Foundation. "Edible Schoolyard". Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  37. ^ a b Chez Panisse Foundation. "School Lunch Reform". Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  38. ^ Dowd, Maureen (2009-04-28). "Chef Waters' Vision Becomes Hot Topic".  
  39. ^ Finz, Stacy (2010-09-23). "School meals study provides food for thought".  
  40. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary".  
  41. ^ CBS News (2009-06-04). "Alice Waters' Crusade for Better Food". 60 Minutes. Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  42. ^ Burros, Marian (2009-03-19). "Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House".  
  43. ^ Finz, Stacy (2010-05-09). "Alice Waters' push for local, organic setting national agenda".  
  44. ^ Chez Panisse Foundation. "Mission and Vision". Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  45. ^ Gordon, Wendy (2010-04-07). "Alice Waters: Chef, Healthy School Lunch Crusader". Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  46. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2010-08-05. The Sustainable Food Project directs a sustainable dining program at Yale, manages an organic farm on campus, and runs diverse programs that support exploration and academic inquiry related to food and agriculture. 
  47. ^ "Our Mission". Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  48. ^ Lander, Nicholas (1996-08-14). "Why Women Excel in the Kitchen". The Financial Times. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-05. Waters, who is a passionate campaigner for local, sustainable and seasonal food, says she was drawn to the movement by a desire to ensure that food knowledge is passed on to the next generation. 
  49. ^ McNamee, Thomas (2007). Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. Penguin Books. p. 39.  
  50. ^ Burros, Marian (1996-08-14). "Alice Waters: Food Revolutionary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  51. ^ La Force, Thessaly. "The Exchange: Alice Waters". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  52. ^
  53. ^ "2008 Inductees". California Museum. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  54. ^ Eric Quiñones (2009-06-02). "Princeton awards five honorary degrees". Princeton. Archived from the original on 9 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  55. ^ Design Futures Council Senior Fellows
  56. ^ Brody, Meredith (August 4, 2009). "Alice Waters to Receive France's Highest Honor". 
  57. ^ The Star Ledger. August 1, 2014. pg. 19


See also

Gourmet magazine awarded Chez Panisse restaurant as the Best Restaurant in America in 2001. In addition, Waters has won other honors.

Awards and honors

Board memberships

  • California Fresh Harvest: A Seasonal Journey through Northern California (California Fresh) (with Gina Gallo, the Inc. Junior League of Oakland-East Bay, et al.)
  • Waters, Alice (1984).  
  • Waters, Alice (1995).  
  • Waters, Alice (1996).  
  • Waters, Alice (1997). , a storybook and cookbook for children  
  • Waters, Alice (1999).  
  • Waters, Alice; Paul Bertolli (2001).  
  • Waters, Alice (2002).  
  • Waters, Alice; Carlo Petrini; William McCuaig (2004).  
  • Waters, Alice (2007).  
  • Waters, Alice (2008).  
  • Waters, Alice (2010).  


Other chefs who have cited Waters as a notable influence on their work include: René Redzepi, Stephanie Alexander, David Chang, Suzanne Goin, Rick Bayless, Judy Rodgers, Scott Peacock, Molly McCook, Rose Gray, Skye Gyngell, and Frank Stitt. Darina Allen

Other chefs

Waters received a 2014 National Humanities Medal for her work as a champion of a holistic approach to eating and health.[52]


In turn, many people in the film industry are friends of Waters and of Chez Panisse. Francis Ford Coppola, Philip Kaufman, and others are notable restaurant patrons, and often attend events at the restaurant.[50] In 1980, Werner Herzog asked Waters to cook his shoe for the film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. She prepared the shoe in the Chez Panisse kitchen, braising it in duck fat, herbs, and spices. [51]

In 1984 Waters opened a small breakfast café in Berkeley. Café Fanny was named after the heroine of Pagnol's films - a love story involving the whole community, centered around a little standup café. Waters wanted to evoke their spirit: an ideal reality where life and work were inseparable and the daily pace left time for the afternoon anisette or the restorative game of petanque, where eating together nourished the spirit as well as the body-since the food was raised, harvested, hunted, fished and gathered by people sustaining and sustained by each other and by the earth itself. The café closed in March 2012. (

In addition to food and advocacy, Waters’ other passions include film. Chez Panisse was named for “Honore Panisse”, a favorite character in the “Marius”, “Fanny”, and “Cesar” trilogy of Marcel Pagnol films, which chronicles the lives of working-class citizens in 1930s Marseilles. In the films, Honore Panisse is a kind, older man who agrees to marry Fanny, a younger woman who is pregnant with another man’s child. He is Waters’ favorite character because of his kindness and generosity, qualities she wanted to emulate when opening her restaurant. Waters named her daughter after Fanny.[49]


[48] She was drawn to the Slow Food movement because of its work in passing food knowledge and traditions to future generations.[47] Since 2002, Waters has served as a Vice President of

Slow Food

[46] In 2003, Waters helped create the

Currently, Waters is working at the national policy level to extend free school meals to all public school children in the United States. She hopes to expand programs like the Edible Schoolyard and the School Lunch Initiative in order to reach schools across the US. She supports the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, and believes that providing all public school students with free food in school would build the foundation for a healthier and more sustainable food culture in the US.[45]

Other advocacy projects

In addition to the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, there are five affiliate Edible Schoolyard programs around the country. These include Edible Schoolyards in New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and [44]

Edible Schoolyard affiliate programs

Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, which replaced her predecessor's literacy drive, addresses much of what Waters has been preaching…Chris Lehane, a political consultant who has worked for Al Gore and Bill Clinton, sees Waters as “the George Washington of the movement and Northern California as the 13 colonies…If you’re going to pick a figure who's responsible for it all, it all comes back to her.”[43]

An article in the ‘’San Francisco Chronicle’’ states that: [42] Although the work of the Chez Panisse Foundation has focused primarily on the Berkeley Unified School District, Waters has become a vocal and familiar advocate for school lunch reform and activism at the national level, as well. She encouraged

In September 2010, the Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, Center for Ecoliteracy, and Chez Panisse Foundation released an evaluation report on the School Lunch Initiative. The report tracked elementary and middle school students over three years to determine the effects of the School Lunch Initiative on children's eating habits and knowledge. The report found that students in schools with highly developed School Lunch Initiative components ate more daily servings of fruit and vegetables than students in schools with lesser developed programs, and that they scored higher on food knowledge assessments. Schools with highly developed School Lunch Initiative components integrated kitchen and garden classes into the school curriculum, in addition to overhauling the school lunch program.[39]

The School Lunch Initiative is focused on bringing wholesome school lunch to the 10,000 students in the Berkeley Unified School District. In 2005, the Chez Panisse Foundation provided a grant to Berkeley schools to hire Ann Cooper as the Director of Nutrition Services for the district. Cooper and the Foundation eliminated almost all processed foods from the district and introduced organic fruits and vegetables to the daily menu, all while staying within the district’s budget.[37] Waters' vision is to teach subjects such as history, science, and art through the vehicle of food.[38]

Waters' work at the Edible Schoolyard has also developed into her School Lunch Initiative, which has the broader goal of bringing school children into a new relationship with food by making a healthy, fresh, sustainable meal a part of the school day. The School Lunch Initiative is a collaborative project with the Center for Ecoliteracy, also in Berkeley, and is also the topic of a series of studies through the Center for Weight and Health, at UC Berkeley.[37]

The primary work of the Chez Panisse Foundation has been to establish and sustain the Edible Schoolyard program at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. The Edible Schoolyard was established in 1995 and is a 1-acre (4,000 m2) organic garden and kitchen classroom. Students at the middle school are involved in growing, harvesting, and preparing the foods from the garden, with the aim of promoting the environmental and social well-being of the school community.[36]

The Edible Schoolyard and Edible Education

The Chez Panisse Foundation is a publicly supported 501(c)(3) organization.

In celebration of the restaurant's 25th anniversary, Waters founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996, whose mission is to transform public education by using food to teach, nurture, and empower young people.[34] In particular, the Foundation has worked with the Berkeley Unified School District to develop a public school curriculum that is integrated with the school dining services and incorporates growing, cooking, and sharing food at the table into the school day in order to build a humane and sustainable future for the school's students.[35]

Waters' effort to promote fresh, sustainable food grown by local farms has extended into her work as a food activist and humanitarian. Waters has always been an outspoken supporter of the restaurant's approach to food, cooking, and supporting the local community, but has more recently formalized her efforts through the Chez Panisse Foundation.[33]

Activism and public policy influence

Waters has also recently been named one of the TIMES Magazine Top 100 (2014), is a recipient of the Wall Street Journal Innovators' Award (2014), is a new member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2014), was mentioned in the 2010 International Raw Food Restaurant Directory, published by Ki Publishing.[32] Former Chez Panisse staff include Mark Peel, of Campanile, in Los Angeles; Dan Barber, of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill Restaurant, in New York; Judy Rodgers, of Zuni Café, in San Francisco; Gayle Pirie, of Foreign Cinema, in San Francisco; and Suzanne Goin, of Lucques, in Los Angeles. The restaurant currently operates with a staff of over 100 people, including chefs, pastry chefs, and interns.

In addition, Waters won the lifetime achievement award given by the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants association. She was the third recipient of the annual award, and is the only female winner in the award’s history. About Waters, the 50 Best Restaurants writes: “Described variously as a visionary, a pioneer, ‘the mother of American cooking’ and ‘the most important figure in the culinary history of North America’, Alice Waters is certainly one of the most influential figures in American cooking of the last 50 years.” [29] [Waters' book] Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, was named as one of the 50 best cookbooks of all time by The Observer. Her book ranked number 11 on the list, which also included books by Deborah Madison, a Chez Panisse alum, and David Tanis, one of the restaurant's current head chefs.[30] Alice Water's latest cookbook, entitled My Pantry,[31] focuses on which basic dishes you should cook instead of buy.

Now in its 40th year, Chez Panisse has become one of the most awarded and renowned restaurants in the world. It was recognized as the Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine in 2001,[27] and Waters was named Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation in 1992. She was the first woman to win this award.[28]

Recognition and legacy

Waters' current organic food agenda includes reforming the USDA school lunch program to include organic, local fruits and vegetables and changing the way America eats, but her passion for organics started at her restaurant, where she discovered that organic ingredients were the essential element necessary to create delicious food.

Waters became an organic devotee almost by accident, claiming that what she was originally after was taste. She says: “When I opened up Chez Panisse, I was only thinking about taste. And in doing that, I ended up at the doorstep of [organic farmers].”[26]

Central to the operations and philosophy of Chez Panisse is Waters' and the restaurant's dedication to using organic ingredients. Waters has become a crusader for organic foods, believing that they are both better for the environment and for people's health in addition to tasting superior to commercially-grown, non-organic foods.

Dedication to organic food

In 1971, Waters opened Chez Panisse, which she named for a favorite character in a trilogy of Marcel Pagnol films. From the beginning, the restaurant was a collaborative effort, and was intended to serve primarily as a place where Alice could entertain her friends.[23] Realizing the difficulty in sourcing fresh, high-quality ingredients, Waters began building a network of local farmers, artisans, and producers, and continues to source the restaurant's ingredients through her local network.[24] Waters opened the upstairs Chez Panisse Café in 1980, which serves an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner. In 1984, Waters opened Café Fanny, named after her daughter, a few blocks from the restaurant. Café Fanny, which served breakfast and lunch in a casual, European-café setting, closed in 2012.[25]


Chez Panisse

In addition, Waters has said that she learned Chinese cooking from Cecilia Chiang, and the two became lifelong friends.[20] Waters has said that what Chiang did to popularize Chinese cuisine in America is what Julia Child did for French Cuisine.[21][22]

Olney introduced Waters to Lucien and Lulu Peyraud, owners of the Domaine Tempier vineyard in Provence. Lulu Peyraud’s vineyard cooking significantly influenced Waters’ cooking and her menus at Chez Panisse. In her foreword to Olney's book, Lulu's Provençal Table, Waters wrote: “Lucien and Lulu's warmhearted enthusiasm for life, their love for the pleasures of the table, their deep connection to the beautiful earth of the South of France – these were things I had seen at the movies. But this was for real. I felt immediately as if I had come home to second family.”[19]

Waters counts Elizabeth David, the English cookbook author and writer, as one of her influences. She also credits Richard Olney, an American authority on French food who spent much of his life living in France, with influencing her simple, rustic cuisine.[18]

From Turkey, Waters then returned to France, where she embarked upon a year-long journey. Her travels solidified her love of all things food and French and inspired her to return to California and open Chez Panisse.[17]

After training in London, Waters next traveled to Turkey, which she credits with influencing her approach to hospitality and deepening her respect for local communities. In his book Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, Thomas McNamee recounts Waters’ experience in Turkey, where a young Turkish boy shared tea and a small bit of cheese with Alice and her traveling companions, even though he had very little. This small act of kindness had an effect on Waters's approach to hospitality and generosity in her own restaurant.[16]

Waters eventually returned to Europe, where she first trained at a Montessori school in London, and then spent time traveling in Turkey and then in France once again. Principles of the Montessori method, which emphasize practical and hands-on activities for children, are evident in Waters’ idea of “edible education” and her Edible Schoolyard, which engages children in the preparation of fruits and vegetables that they tend to with the supervision of their teachers.[14][15]

Additional influences

During this time, Waters worked on the congressional campaign of Robert Scheer, an anti-Vietnam War politician. She often cooked for and entertained her fellow campaigners, and for the first time was building her reputation as a cook in addition to an activist.[13]

In response to a campus-wide ban on political involvement and activism, Berkeley students joined together to form the Free Speech Movement. One of the student leaders of this movement, Mario Savio, had a profound influence on Waters. Savio became famous in 1964 for delivering a speech, inciting individual student protesters to take action against the “machine” of political oppression. In his Sproul Hall Steps speech he said: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious…And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop”.[11] Although her political aims have shifted, her approach to provoking change has remained constant over her tenure at Chez Panisse.[12]

Also during her time at Berkeley, Waters became active in the Free Speech Movement, which was sweeping across campus at the time.[10]

Free Speech Movement

She brought this style of food preparation back to Berkeley, where she popularized the concept of market-fresh cooking with the local products available to her in Northern California.[8] For her, food is a way of life and not just something to eat.[9]

Waters was born in Chatham Borough, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley after transferring there from UC Santa Barbara. She received a degree in French Cultural Studies in 1967. During her time at UC Berkeley, she studied abroad in France, where she shopped for local produce and prepared fresh foods simply in order to enhance the experience of the table. During her time in France, she says she “lived at the bottom of a market street” and “took everything in by osmosis”.[7]



  • Background 1
  • Free Speech Movement 2
  • Additional influences 3
  • Chez Panisse 4
    • Background 4.1
    • Dedication to organic food 4.2
    • Recognition and legacy 4.3
  • Activism and public policy influence 5
  • The Edible Schoolyard and Edible Education 6
    • Edible Schoolyard affiliate programs 6.1
    • Other advocacy projects 6.2
  • Slow Food 7
  • Film 8
  • Awards 9
  • Other chefs 10
  • Books 11
  • Board memberships 12
  • Awards and honors 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17

[6] She founded the

In addition to her restaurant, Waters has written several books on food and cooking, including Chez Panisse Cooking (with Paul Bertolli), The Art of Simple Food I and II, and "40 Years of Chez Panisse." She is one of the most well-known food activists in the United States and around the world.[4][5]

Waters believes that eating organic foods, free from herbicides and pesticides, is essential for both taste and the health of the environment and local communities. [3]