Alice Waters’s voice is breathy and quavers just slightly. When she says “roots” it sounds like “ruts”, which I take for some east coast WASPy accent holdover. Waters says “roots” a lot: about local organic produce, about the origins of the slow food movement, about her influence on chefs around the world. Waters has been all over the radio lately, giving interviews because it’s Chez Panisse’s 40th birthday. To celebrate, they’ve had a pop-up appertif bar on the Shattuck sidewalk all week. Tonight they’re giving away free pizza slices.
Chez Panisse is arguably the most famous restaurant in America, for many important and delicious reasons. In March, James Nord and I had the pleasure of lunch in the café, upstairs. It was misty and you could barely make out the Bay through the wisteria vines and the fog. Every dish set before us was simple and lovely and gentle, which I think embodies the spirit of the restaurant just so.