- NAME: Alice Waters
- OCCUPATION: Educator, Environmental Activist, Chef, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: April 28, 1944 (Age: 69)
- EDUCATION: University of California, Berkeley, International Montessori School (London)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Chatham, New Jersey
- Full Name: Alice Louise Waters
- AKA: Alice Waters
- ZODIAC SIGN: Taurus
Best Known For
Chef, restaurateur and activist Alice Waters owns Chez Panisse. Her efforts to promote locally grown sustainable foods include the Edible Schoolyard program.
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Chef Alice Waters was born on April 28, 1944, in Chatham, New Jersey. In 1971, she opened her own restaurant, Chez Panisse. In 1996, she started the Edible Schoolyard at a Berkley middle school, along with a program called the School Lunch Initiative. That same year, she founded the Chez Panisse Foundation, which later launched the Garden Project. In 2013, Waters co-led a chefs' petition against California fracking.
"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."
"We're trying to bring children into a new relationship with food where they have an opportunity to work in a garden. They know what it is to plant the seeds and pick the weeds and they're learning about what it takes to cook the food. ... We've been separated from this experience through a kind of fast-food indoctrination that's been going on for the last 50 years."
"My real emphasis is on the farmers who are taking care of the land, the farmers who are really thinking about our nourishment. I'm looking for them and I know very well that in order to cook something that is really flavorful, you need to have ingredients that are grown in a place where they really thrive and so you're looking to the farmer to plant the right seeds in the right place and care for them, and know when to pick them. ... 85 percent of cooking is about finding those ingredients, and then it's so easy after that. You just let them be themselves."
Alice Louise Waters was born in Chatham, New Jersey, on April 28, 1944. Growing up, the future chef and restaurateur had a self-described "keen sense of taste," but rarely ate out at restaurants.
As a college student at the University of California, Berkeley, Waters broadened her palate during a semester abroad in Paris. In 1967, she graduated from Berkeley with a degree in French cultural studies. Afterward, she trained as a chef at the Montessori School in London, then spent a year in France learning French cooking technique. In France, Waters developed a passion for uniquely fresh food—coming straight from the farm to the plate.
In 1971, Alice Waters and a friend, Lindsey Shere, opened a restaurant in Berkeley. Inspired by the model of a farmer's market, Chez Panisse was decades ahead of the upcoming "foodie movement," during which the American public would experience increased awareness and availability of local, eco-friendly sustainable foods.
When Waters had a baby in 1983, she hired another chef to do the cooking at Chez Panisse. Still, she remained staunchly committed to her original vision for the eatery: All of the restaurant's ingredients are purchased from local producers and suppliers. The result is a seasonal menu of farm-to-plate fresh foods that supports her community's agricultural economy while encouraging patrons to eat healthfully.
In 2007, Waters was ranked on Restaurant Magazine's "World's 50 Best Restaurants" list. A book sharing Chez Panisse's staff and customer stories, 40 Years at Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, was published in 2011. Waters has also personally written several cookbooks since the restaurant's inception. As of 2013, Chez Panisse continues to maintain its reputation as one of the finest restaurants the world over.
Alice Waters's passion for healthy, locally sourced produce, combined with her concern about American obesity, inspired her to spread her message beyond the reaches of Chez Panisse's clientele. In 1996, Waters established the Edible Schoolyard Project at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. Through the program, students not only experience growing their own fruits and vegetables, they learn to cook them in a nearby classroom.
Also in 1996, Waters founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in an effort to fund additional schoolyard gardens. With the foundation's support, Waters also established a program known as the School Lunch Initiative that provides daily nutritious school lunches made from ingredients grown by students.
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