Alice Waters to open first restaurant in nearly 40 years

Alice Waters gained celebrity fame in the San Francisco Bay Area after opening Chez Panissse restaurant in Berkeley.

Now, she's bringing her farm-to-table California cuisine to the land of A-list stars. 

The slow food pioneer is part of a project to open a restaurant in Southern California at the Hammer Museum, an art museum in Westwood Village that's part of the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA.

The Hammer Museum is part of the School of the Arts and Architecture at UC Los Angeles and is located in Westwood Village.

A. Graff

The project is still in the works and the concept remains unnamed and there's no menu as of yet. But the establishment is expected to open this fall in the former space of the restaurant Audrey. 

Waters is part of an impressive team collaborating on the endeavor, including former Chez Panisse head chef and New York Times columnist David Tanis and Jesse McBride, a veteran of Chateau Marmont and The Standard hotel. Also involved is Oliver Monday who will serve as forager and farm liaison.

"Waters sees the project as an ongoing experimental endeavor—a restaurant that is also a teaching kitchen, an artistic expression, and most importantly, a community gathering place," according to a statement from Waters' press office. "The feel of the place will be strikingly different from the France-focused, somewhat more traditional dining experience at Waters’ beloved Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley."

The statement said the restaurant will have "admittedly lofty goals" — aiming to support local artists and craftspeople, inspire the students of UCLA, help to mitigate climate change, promote regenerative organic agriculture, and celebrate the diverse kitchen cultures of Los Angeles. 

When Waters opened her renowned Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971 after graduating from UC Berkeley, she was among the first chefs to spotlight organic, locally grown ingredients and is recognized for starting a movement in market-fresh cooking.

She opened the upstairs more casual Chez Panisse Café in 1980 and Café Fanny, named after her daughter, in 1984. Café Fanny, which served breakfast and lunch, shuttered in 2012.

A national public policy advocate for school lunch reform, she created the Edible Schoolyard program at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley.