Alice Waters: Fun Facts for Foodies

Elisa Lichtenbaum | May 23, 2017
Alice Waters

Alice Waters. Photo by Amanda Marsalis

Alice Waters (b. April 28, 1944) and her now-famous restaurant Chez Panisse became a major force behind the way Americans eat and think about food, launching the explosion of local farmers’ markets and redesigned supermarket produce departments. Distressed by the food she saw in public schools, Waters started an organic garden with an integrated curriculum at the Martin Luther King Middle School near her house in Berkeley, CA, an idea inspired by The Garden Project at the San Francisco county jail. The idea of an Edible Schoolyard has now spread across the U.S. – and inspired similar programs worldwide. She is an activist with a flawless palette who has taken her gift for food and turned it into consciousness about the environment and nutrition, and a device for social change. American Masters presents an encore of Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution, which follows Waters through a year of seasonal shopping and cooking, highlighting her recipes and advocacy, on Friday, May 26, 10pm on PBS (check local listings). The film is part of American Masters Chefs Flight May, which features documentaries on culinary legends James Beard, Julia Child, and Jacques Pépin as well.

Fun Facts

Werner Herzog lost a bet and agreed to eat his shoe. Alice Waters was the one who made it edible.

Werner Herzog lost a bet and agreed to eat his shoe. Alice Waters was the one who made it edible.

  1. Named Chez Panisse, her legendary Berkeley, California restaurant, after Honoré Panisse, a character in a trilogy of 1930s films by French filmmaker Marcel Pagnol.
  2. In 1995 Waters founded The Edible Schoolyard Project, which empowers students to make food choices that are healthy for them, their communities, and the environment.
  3. Waters has served as Vice President of Slow Food International since 2002.
  4. Waters was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in 2015, for her work showing the bond between the ethical and the edible and championing a holistic approach to eating and health.
  5. Waters is the subject of a children’s book, Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious.
  6. Cooked filmmaker Werner Herzog’s shoes in duck fat and seasonings in Les Blank’s 1980 short documentary, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

Memorable Quote

“How we eat can change the world.”

Notable Books

Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, 1995.
The book features 120 of the best menus at Alice Waters’ restaurant.

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes From a Delicious Revolution, 2007.
Timeless recipes made with great ingredients.

40 Years at Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, 2011.
Stories from the Waters’ restaurant’s staff, customers and purveyors, including fishmongers, farmers, winemakers, bakers and more.

My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own, 2015.
Essays and recipes, with illustrations by Waters’ daughter, Fanny.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, 2017.
Waters’ long-awaited memoir is due out in September, 2017.