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40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering Hardcover – August 23, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: In 1971, a young Montessori teacher with no cooking experience beyond having friends to dinner inspired some of these friends to help her open a restaurant in Berkley, serving one perfectly delicious meal each night. In 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, Alice Waters gives a lively history of how this modest beginning grew into a mecca that helped catalyze the rise of local food culture. Photos and ephemera that evoke each decade come alive through vivid little stories from 90 other collaborators and patrons—the chefs, waiters, fishmongers, farmers, winemakers, bakers, food writers, and friends who grew with the restaurant into an extended, cross-generational family.

First galvanized by political action at UCLA in the mid-‘60s, Waters experienced a more personal revolution in Europe: Paris taught her how food “anchored life to the land” and café culture built community; in London, she devoured the culinary classics Elizabeth David, internalizing her ethic of seeking fresh, local ingredients and “leaving well alone”; and in Greece and Turkey, she awakened to the transformative power of hospitality. Backed by an inventive crew, Waters brought all these elements to life at Chez Panisse, buying directly from growers (giving them, for the first time, bylines on the menu) and cultivating a hospitality that extended into the community through incredible parties and initiatives like the Edible Schoolyard Project. Beyond creating four decades of memorable meals, Chez Panisse demonstrated how restaurants can shift America's cultural relationship to agriculture and eating, a change that gains momentum each year. Destined to become a food-lit classic, this gorgeous volume pays homage to the power of gathering around a table, culminating in this luscious truth: "ripeness is all." --Mari Malcolm

About the Author

ALICE WATERS’s influence on American cooking is unrivaled. She opened Chez Panisse (named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet) in 1971, Chez Panisse Café in 1980, and Café Fanny in 1984. She founded her career on creating dishes using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients long before sustainability was a household term. Among her many awards, Alice has received the James Beard Best Chef in America, Humanitarian, and Lifetime Achievement awards, and most recently the French Légion d’Honneur. In 1996, she created the Chez Panisse Foundation to fund the Edible Schoolyard, a model of edible education in the public school system. She is the author of eight cookbooks, most recently In the Green Kitchen and The Art of Simple Food. For more information about Alice and Chez Panisse, please visit ChezPanisse.com and ChezPanisseFoundation.org.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; First Edition first Printing edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307718263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307718266
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Waters is the visionary chef and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. She is the author of four cookbooks, including Chez Panisse Vegetables and Fanny at Chez Panisse. In 1994 she founded the Edible schoolyard at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, a model curriculum that integrates organic gardening into academic classes and into the life of the school; it will soon incorporate a school lunch program in which students will prepare, serve, and share food they grow themselves, augmented by organic dairy products, grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish - all locally and sustainably produced.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just spent the afternoon with this gorgeous book and feel as if I've whiled away the day lingering over a sparkling champagne lunch with Alice and friends. I've only had the pleasure of dining with them once - what a shame, considering the many trips I've made to San Francisco. I had expected a book of essays with pictures sprinkled throughout but instead found a virtual trip back in time, a beautiful, evocative picturebook with essays sprinkled here and there. If you're expecting recipes, I'd recommend one of the many Chez Panisse cookbooks as there isn't a recipe to be found here. And you won't mind, either. Worth every penny. I'm ready to start packing for a quick trip to Berkley. Merci beaucoup, Alice!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This retrospective of the famous 'Chez Panisse' is a delightful read. It becomes obvious that Alice Waters is only one player in the development of an entirely new genre of restaurants, indeed a new way of looking at the food we eat. Many friends pulled together to change the world of food. The locavore movement started here. Interesting that this bunch of radical-ish Berkleyites made a real change happen in the world that they never would have suspected in the late 60's and early 70's.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you own the book version, don't overlook the audio version from Audible.com -- it's incredible. Hear the people in the book come to life. Even Marian Cunningham and others who have passed on are in there talking away, so they must have been working on it forever. It's wonderful, fascinating, and less than $5. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is amazing. Buy it.
Alice has modeled "The Power of Gathering" for 40 years.
Her celebration of milestones on this journey are captivating.

This book makes you want to mark the special moments in the passions you pursue. Don't let time click by, take the time to stop, invite the people who have shared in your work, and celebrate together your contributions to make an impact in the world.

Alice models celebrating what you do in life, with the ones you do life with.
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Format: Hardcover
By Paul Aratow

Special to the Los Angeles Times

September 1, 2011
It was an obscure, dingy, two-story apartment building, converted from an old house, in an ignored part of Berkeley. Not expensive to buy. It had good bones. I tore it down to the studs and started to rebuild.

I was pretty much on my own, since Alice Waters, my 50-50 partner, was busy at her job at the Montessori school. Our backers, Berkeley lawyers, a special breed, had promised to be our partners, but a few weeks into the reconstruction they decided to pull out of the deal. That hurt us badly, since they had been our construction funding source.

Panicked, Alice and I scraped and begged for cash and managed to cobble together enough to keep going, as long as we did most of the work on an excruciatingly limited budget. We took loans of $300 or $400 from everyone we could, plus help from our families.

Maybe we would have had an easier time if we had been able to explain to them that 40 years on, this little place we were calling Chez Panisse would be regarded as one of the most important restaurants in the history of American dining. But even in Berkeley in the 1970s, that would have been a stretch. Still, this month, while most of the food world fetes the restaurant, it's good to remember that its birth was far from painless.

I got involved in the restaurant because I had been dinner-party friends with Alice and her then-boyfriend, Tom Luddy. They asked me to join them as a partner and run the kitchen because, although Alice had a lot of ideas about food, she had never worked in a restaurant. Nor had I, but I was a talented amateur cook, giving large dinner parties for my academic colleagues, and relatively fearless about new ventures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
you can't go wrong with alice. however, the selling of her book by amazon was a mess, first listing at $25.00 and then upped to $37.50. similar
thing with the new MIETTE baking book. received notice AFTER receiving the long anticipated book that the measurements were wrong. regardless, it is a beautifully designed book. one just wishes they could proof read.
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Silly me, I thought there would be a collection of the best recipes from fabulous Chez Panisse with a bit of history of the restaurant thrown in. Rather, it is a book which goes into rather a lot of detail on the inception and growth of the restaurant set in historical context. It's interesting, with good photography and essays from notable figures, but you would have to be the world's biggest fan of Chez Panisse and Alice Waters (whom I respect greatly) to actually find the book interesting enough to read from cover to cover. No recipes, at least none that I could find! Disappointing from that point of view, but good social commentary of that period in time.
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We were disappointed in the book because it contained no recipe's. It did have some of her menu's from "historic" events that she hosted, but not the recipe's for the dish's. A fairly interesting history, but unless you're in her fan club, you may be disappointed...we returned our copy.
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