Chef Bios: Alice Waters

Contributor
A look at the woman behind Chez Panisse
Chef Bios: Alice Waters

Alice Waters has been known for her contributions to the creation of California cuisine since opening Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1971. As a chef, humanitarian, and activist, she has since garnered recognition from the culinary industry and beyond.

Alice Waters was born in Chatham, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967 with a degree in French Cultural Studies. After school, Waters moved to London where she was trained as a Montessori school teacher. She later used these methods to create her Edible Schoolyard program. From London, Waters traveled and settled in France for a year.

After returning to Berkeley, California, Waters opened Chez Panisse. The upstairs cafe opened in 1981 featuring a more casual à la carte menu. In 1984, she opened a new restaurant a few miles from Chez Panisse, Cafe Fanny (named after her daughter).

It’s difficult to enumerate the awards and honors that Waters has received. She was named the Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation in 1992 (the first woman to win this award) and Chez Panisse was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine in 2001. Waters has also won humanitarian awards due to her environmental activism and work with integrating agricultural curriculum into the American education system. She has also authored 12 books.

 

QUICKFACTS:
Culinary Style: California
Restaurants: Chez Panisse
Born: 1944
Signature Dish: Baked Goat Cheese with Baby Lettuces

DID YOU KNOW?
In 2008, Alice Waters was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, and she received the French Legion of Honor in 2009.