Alice Waters. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Alice Waters at a gathering with friends and food. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Alice Waters (born 1944) is one of the unrivaled pioneers of California cuisine, owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, among the first U.S. restaurants to promote locally grown, seasonally available, organically produced ingredients. While this now might seem a given, this philosophy was groundbreaking in 1971, when Waters first opened her restaurant.

Over the last forty years, Waters has been at the forefront of the “good” food movement, introducing gardening programs into elementary schools –  “edible schoolyard” instruction that not only shows kids how to grow, but what to eat. She’s pushed presidents to install a veggie garden on the White House lawn (the Obama’s finally did it) and vigorously advocates locally produced foods in lieu of the international shipments of mass-produced grub – meals that are unhealthy for both the environment and consumer.

Alice Waters slicing a cake in 1975.

Slice of Life: Alice Waters at her restaurant Chez Panisse in 1975.

Waters has also penned several cookbooks – including her newest – The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. She also serves as a US “governor” for Slow Food, the movement toward local farming and cuisines, first created in Italy in response the opening of a McDonald’s next to the Spanish Steps in Rome.

All of these acts have made Waters a heroine to some, a pest to others. Critics accuse her of elitism – claiming that her push for good food is possible only for the rich and educated. It’s true Waters own tastes tend toward the more elegant and French-inspired recipes, but her advice to her flock is simple – try to buy local, fresh and as pesticide free as possible. Buy from a farmer/breeder who lives down the road. And when all else fails, grow your own. Over the years, these mantras have made Waters something of an icon – a longtime proponent of the backyard garden, small farm, and locally resourced, all organic cuisine.


  1. Lou Maheu
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    I've heard Alice Waters described as a "food Nazi in a MooMoo". Well everyone knows the fresher and cleaner the produce and meats the better the meal. Alice is richtig! Excellent choice of a heroine Ms Hundley. If only she could cook.

  2. Posted February 10, 2010 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    beautiful posting!

  3. KL
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 6:36 AM | Permalink

    Lou – if all this is so obvious why is half the country obese? And why are they serving Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in school lunches across the nation? How can you honestly think that "good food" doesn't need a lobby. KL

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