A legacy in the food industry is celebrating its 40th anniversary. And now, despite the tensions and startling issues of the availability of fresh, healthy, and organic meals that the restaurant industry is facing, Chez Panisse continues to charm foodies and seduce their palates into their humble abode.
Opened by chef, activist, and food author Alice Waters and friends, Chez Panisse successfully changed how the world perceived food. I would definitely be awed if a restaurant can maintain its reputation of serving the best meals to its guests for over a decade. But with Chez Panisse’s four decades of endless grace and dominance in the palate, I’m speechless. Alice shares that she had been a picky eater when she was a kid. Seems like it was impossible to greatly satisfy her palate constantly, but not until she left the University of California and made it for a semester in Paris.
Like any other girl who fell for the City of Love, Paris, is indeed charming in its own right, especially when it comes to feeding the hungry tummy. Alice felt a change of perspective, brought by Paris’ delicious treats, from its fresh markets and small restaurants. To give a picky eater like Alice a 180-degree turn, I could safely conclude that Paris is indeed the City of Love and Food. And Alice understands it well, she then decided that she wanted to make it happen. Alice Waters fell in-love with food, and she started sharing her belief, passion, and love for it.
Finally, her dream came true. 1971 marked the start of a restaurant era, the opening of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California bound with a homey and delicious food experience. From a two-storey apartment building, Chez Panisse was built with a restaurant at the ground floor and a Café (created in 1980) at the second floor. This humble restaurant founded by Alice Waters in Berkeley became a legacy in America’s dining history. The Chez Panisse was known for its incredible and delectable menus which feature locally grown organic ingredients. In addition, the menus also showcase very seasonal ingredients such as meat, fish, and poultry. Chez Panisse takes us to a palatable tour on what healthy and organic eating is all about.
With Chez Panisse’s 40th anniversary, Alice Waters and the rest of Chez Panisse launches their newest coffee table book entitled “40 Years at Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering“ because it is indeed a gathering of all people of different persuasions (the owners, the loyal customers, the chefs, the critics, and others) who have helped created this wonderful dynasty. This book serves as a memoir, a collection of everyone’s memories and stories throughout their 40 years of journey. In line with this, a series of delicious events were also prepared just a few days ago.
Now, Alice Waters has a handful of things that she needs to take care of, and of course, that includes managing Chez Panisse, designing menus, and creating and writing cookbooks. And lastly, aside from creating an organic food haven for the foodies through Chez Panisse, Alice made another initiative to involve other people in setting them to healthy mode. Her foundation’s “Edible Schoolyards” have been rocking schools nationwide. The goal is to teach kids and students how to grow and harvest their own ingredients.
I’m blown away with how refreshing this restaurant and her advocacy can be. It is truly amazing to see how people like Alice and businesses like Chez Panisse can create and maintain a reputation as a go-to restaurant when it comes to serving local and organic meals. With only a decade short of making it to the golden anniversary, I do not see Chez Panisse becoming a little less than what it has achieved today. If it continues to seduce foodies for a good cause, then I’ll look forward to what the next few years will bring me.
And now, I leave you with this phrase from Chez Panisse’s website, “Alice and Chez Panisse are convinced that the best-tasting food is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the land for future generations.”
September 3rd, 2011