Alice Waters is truly an inspiration.
I had the pleasure of meeting her yesterday at the Prairie Grass Cafe, an event for the release of her new book entitled The Art of Simple Food. While I knew how inspiring she was before meeting her, my impressions were only solidified upon speaking to her in real life.
If you know a thing or two about Alice Waters, you’d know that she opened and owns a world-renowned restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. called Chez Panisse (which has been on the top 50 world restaurants for years). Her inspiration for opening this restaurant came from a trip she took to Europe (mainly France) when she was 19. And she named her restaurant after a character in a trilogy of French films she encountered on that very trip. The food at Chez Panisse is prepared solely from organic, sustainable, and locally-grown ingredients; she has a network of over 60 local farmers.
This restaurant not only became a standard many aspire to, but it made Alice into an icon for organic and slow food movements. More than this, she has taken the cause further by starting up the Edible Schoolyard project, and uses her Chez Panisse fame to make sure kids are eating better. She spent a great deal of her time at this event talking about this project (a breaking news post to come soon! stay tuned!)
Prior to Alice’s arrival, the restaurant served an array of hors d’eurves made entirely from her recipes. Excuse the terrible picture, but as you can see, the PrairieGrass chefs prepared her guacamole with chips, onion tart, roasted peppers, oatmeal and currant cookies, and chocolate cookies.
Not pictured: marinated feta cheese, and swiss chard with prosciutto. Everything was truly delicious, and while not prepared by Alice herself, was created from local and organic ingredients, and most of these recipes can be found in her new book.
I asked her if she was raised this way: to be so careful about what she eats, not in the way of health, but in the way of quality. She perked up, as if no one had ever asked her that question before in her entire life which really surprised me. She paused for a moment and then carefully said “No. I was raised in New Jersey with a garden. We didn’t have enough money for fast food, so we ate out of the garden.”
I was sort of taken aback. It’s one thing to promote a cause. But it’s another to promote a cause that’s a result of both the way you were raised, and the self-growth you have had throughout your lifetime. Alice Waters’ cause is a culmination of both her nature, and her nurturing, and that’s what makes it real. She really cares about making sure people are eating right, not by cutting back the butter, but by making sure you know where your food comes from.
That’s what makes her an inspiration.
For more information on Alice Waters, feel free to read A Profile of Alice Waters.
-Hillary, hoping to do more cooking in the near future
P.S. I can’t help it. Here’s me, my friend Talia, and Alice!