In this week’s podcast, Patrick speaks to Alice Waters – founder of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, Vice President of Slow Food International, and widely celebrated for her work with the Edible Schoolyard Project.
They begin by looking back at the year when Alice first opened Chez Panisse, in 1971, influenced by a trip to France which reshaped her entire perception of our food systems. Coincidently, Patrick was also living in the San Francisco bay area at that time, in Palo Alto, where his father was a visiting professor at Stanford University – although he didn’t actually meet Alice until many years later, as they discuss in the podcast.
Alice recounts that one of her main motivations for opening the restaurant was born out of a sense of political and cultural disillusion. At a time when she felt ‘sensorially deprived’, food became a positive outlet, with which she could make a difference. ‘I wanted to feed people an idea’, she explains. Her revolutionary understanding of food as a political act and a tool to influence positive change underpinned the various subsequent stages of her remarkable career.
‘As little as 60 years ago everybody on this planet ate seasonally. We supported our local communities… We ate that way’, says Alice. Whilst she has been passionately communicating the importance of reconnecting communities to their food systems for decades, her ideas have recently begun to resonate with more people than ever before – particularly in California. ‘There isn’t a student who doesn’t want us to address climate change, diversity, and hunger’, she argues – issues which are all deeply connected to food. Patrick and Alice agree that it is time for a ‘delicious revolution’ – a global food movement which makes healthy, sustainable and locally produced food the norm again.
Alice is the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea, and, a memoir, Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook.