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Alice Waters and Chez Panisse Paperback – February 26, 2008
Cooking in the New Year
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The success of Chez Panisse--Gourmet magazine named it the best American restaurant in 2002--has everything to do with Waters, yet she remains an elusive protagonist. Sophisticated yet naive, professional and amateur, hard-driving but emotionally blurry, she invites reader interest but doesn't always satisfy it, as least as presented here. If McNamee cannot quite bring her to life, and if his tale lacks an insider's full conversance with his subject, he still engages readers in the considerable drama of people finding their way--blunderingly, with talented intent--to something new. With menus, narrated recipes, and photographs throughout, the book is vital reading for anyone interested in food, period. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
I am the author of The Grizzly Bear (Knopf, 1984), Nature First: Keeping Our Wild Places and Wild Creatures Wild (Roberts Rinehart, 1987), A Story of Deep Delight (Viking, 1990), The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone (Henry Holt, 1997)and Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution (The Penguin Press, 2007). My latest book, THE MAN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT: CRAIG CLAIBORNE AND THE AMERICAN FOOD RENAISSANCE, was published in May 2012.
My essays, poems, and natural history writing have been published in Audubon, The New Yorker, Life, Natural History, High Country News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Saveur, and a number of literary journals. I wrote the documentary film Alexander Calder, which was broadcast on the PBS 'American Masters' series in June 1998 and received both a George W. Peabody Award and an Emmy. Many of my book reviews have appeared The New York Times Book Review.
After twenty-three years in New York City and five in rural Montana, I have lived in San Francisco since 1998--albeit with frequent returns to New York and as much of every summer as possible in Montana.
Top Customer Reviews
My only quibble is the rather overly respectful view McNamee takes of her. She's more a flesh and blood person than a saint, and the author might take that into account if he continues to plumb this vein of research.
All in all a fairly well researched and well written tome. Perhaps not as evocative as the chapter on Chez Panisse in David Kamp's, United States of Arugula, but a good book to open to any page & foster a laugh, a sigh or an hurrah!
So I was particularly interested in Waters' story. I'm glad I read it, as I feel like I now know things that I ought to know... but I can't say that this is a Wow book. If you have the opportunity to read the book, do; but I don't think you have to drop everything to put it on the top of your Must Read pile.
Yes, Alice Waters created a revolution in the way that Americans, or at least food-conscious Americans, think about food. But she didn't set out to do so as though she was on a lifelong mission... she just wanted to open the sort of one-star Michelin restaurant that she had encountered across France. Through a set of remarkable happenstance (which makes me think simultaneously -- if oddly -- of both Forrest Gump and Connie Willis' Bellwether), Waters was always in the right place at the right time. The right person always showed up in her life, at the time needed. And -- here's a lesson far beyond foodiehood -- she repeatedly took disaster and turned it into opportunity.
For example, after she brought Italian wood fired pizza to the States (oh geez, she started *that* trend, too?), an oven started a huge fire. The restaurant had to be renovated in a hurry, so instead of recreating the small door between kitchen and dining room, she made a big open area...Read more ›
The author seems to have gone to great pains to be very thorough and include a great deal of information, the book is filled quotes from those closest to Alice, there are menus reprinted from the earliest days onward, letters from friends and employees, stories taken from different sources (sometimes conflicting).
Overall I found it to be fairly balanced and a worthwhile read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More of a backstory of her personal life - more information than I wanted about her personally. Was a Book Club recommendation and I found it tedious and trivial.Published 12 months ago by Sassy
A collection of recipes from her restaurant in San Francisco, it is a fascinating read.Published 17 months ago by Noel Rappe
I really liked the writing style of this book. I have been curious about Alice Waters' life. I saw her interviewed on Charlie Rose's PBS program one time. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Rheta M.
Purchased for my chef wife as a Xmas gift. She read it from cover to cover, makes some of the recipes, and loves the book and the author. I enjoy the meals. Read morePublished on November 30, 2013 by Thomas W. Samarati
This is an excellent biography. It is, on balance, a bit too adulatory, but it does an excellent job of keeping a pace and developing such that I was always eager to return and... Read morePublished on September 11, 2013 by LiteraryTech
this is a great review of the new (then) approach to food and serving it - Alice Waters is an interesting character and she herself changes her focus as the "slow food"... Read morePublished on June 29, 2013 by Sara S. Shane