Make a locavore’s pilgrimage
Alice Waters did for California cuisine what Julia Child did for butter, so it’s no surprise that her Berkeley restaurant has survived for decades in the ultra-competitive restaurant industry. (Chez Panisse marked its 40th anniversary in August 2011.) Waters’s long list of accomplishments stretch beyond the best salads you’ll ever taste, though. In the 1970s, she began sourcing ingredients exclusively from local farms, dairies, and ranches, nearly 20 years before the Slow Food movement became popular—and it remains a passion of hers (she is Vice President of Slow Food International). In the ’80s, she helped revolutionize pizza in the then-new Chez Panisse Café by bringing in a wood-burning pizza oven and popularizing toppings like duck sausage and goat cheese. In the 1990s and 2000s, she delved into community outreach by founding programs like The Edible Schoolyard, which encourages students to learn about and love fruits and vegetables by growing and preparing ingredients from school gardens. What’s next for the West’s patron saint of fresh and local? Hard to say, but a trip to Chez Panisse is a delicious way to look for clues.