ALICE WATERS Owner/Founder Chez Panisse
1971: Waters opens Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. The restaurant, based on her philosophy of serving the highest quality ingredients according to the season, helped encourage a network of organic farmers and ranchers.
Alice Waters was born on April 28, 1944, in Chatham, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of California in 1967 with a degree in French Cultural Studies. She then trained at the Montessori School in London, followed by a seminal year traveling in France. She is married to Stephen Singer, a wine and olive oil merchant and a painter, and has a daughter, Fanny, who was born in 1983.
She opened Chez Panisse in 1971, serving a five-course, fixed-price menu that changed daily. To this day, the set menu format remains at the heart of Alice's philosophy of serving the highest quality products according to the season. Over two decades, she has discovered and encouraged a network of farmers and ranchers who now ensure Chez Panisse a steady supply of pure and fresh ingredients, almost all organically grown.
The upstairs cafe opened in 1980, and features an a la carte menu--with an open kitchen and a wood-burning pizza oven. In 1984, Cafe fanny, a stand-up cafe serving breakfast and lunch, opened a few miles from the restaurant.
Alice is author and co-author of several books, including The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, Fanny at Chez Panisse, a storybook and cookbook for children, and, most recently, the encyclopedic Chez Panisse Vegetables. She has also received numerous prestigious awards, including being named one of the ten best chefs in the world by the magazine Cuisine et Vins du France; the Best Chef in America, Best Restaurant in America, and Humanitarian of the Year awards from the James Beard Foundation; and an honorary degree from Mills College in Oakland, California.
Alice is currently involved with developing a food-based curriculum at Berkeley's Martin Luther Kings Junior High School. This project seeks to involve children directly in planting, gardening, harvesting, cooking, and eating, with the goal of illuminating the vital relationship of food to their lives and teaching them respect for each other and for the planet. It is intended to be a significant part of the school's curriculum, and to help resuscitate its lunch program. This King Junior High Edible Schoolyard is being conceived as a pilot project to serve as a model for schools across the country.
Alice also has ongoing extensive involvement with the Horticulture Project at the San Francisco County Jail and its related program, the Garden Project, a job- training organization and market garden. These programs teach organic gardening to prisoners and parolees in order to renew their self-esteem and install community responsibility.