Farmers are why Chez Panisse tastes the way it does, says Alice Waters

Nobody put a farmer's name on a menu or invited them to the table before Alice Waters. In August of 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse, which came to define California cuisine and champion local ingredients, while simultaneously changing the way food is thought and talked about. This summer, the Berkeley institution celebrated 50 years. Evan Kleiman sits down with the doyenne of sustainability to talk about the restaurant, the Edible Schoolyard Project, food activism, the upcoming Los Angeles project at the Hammer Museum, and her legacy.

“I was swept away by the free speech movement, civil rights. I never lost my optimism because of that time, and I felt like if we all got together to do something, we could,” says Alice Waters of empowering people to value sustainability. Photo by Amanda Marsalis.

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“Every year I always say, ‘We should decide if we want to do it another year.’ I’ve never felt just tied to doing it, I’ve always loved it,” says Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, which celebrates 50 years this summer. Photo by Franklin Avery.