Love of healthy fresh food, respect for people and for the land that produces food, support of farmers who till the soil, the desire to educate children about the benefits of “slow food” and how it is grown, and the passion to cook and provide meals that are delicious have been values that have sustained Alice Waters.
A trip to London to study Montessori and a year in France where she discovered the joy of fresh foods were pivotal points in the life of Waters. Returning to the Berkeley, California area where she had earned her degree, she opened an “unorthodox restaurant” that gained fame for its then original idea of serving fresh selections to appreciative patrons. Chez Panisse is still thriving! Alice Waters was the first woman named “Best Chef in America” in 1992 by the James Beard Foundation. Later she received their Humanitarian Award and in 2009 she was named to the French Legion of Honor, reconnecting her to the source of her life’s work.
Waters has improved the lives of children and adults by founding educational programs. In 1996 in Berkeley, she worked with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, teaching students through “The Edible Schoolyard” to cook and eat the food they grew. Then with “The School Lunch Initiative” she began her journey to assist students to respect their environment and future by dining on local fresh food as a boon to their health, a message that impacted teachers and parents as well. Her words and ideas for organic cooking have been widely acknowledged nationally and internationally as important to sustainable living and more.
Alice Waters has made the connection between education that allows each child to thrive and her love of fresh cuisine and respect for the environment. Her passions have inspired people of all ages and have reminded us of the benefit of nature’s beauty and bounty.