The thought of Alice Waters brings to our mind the way in which she revolutionised the organic food industry in America. Opening a French bistro Chez Panisse in Berkeley in Calif at the age of 27, she changed the entire concept of the way the Americans ate, cooked and thought about food. Termed as the mother of organic revolution in food industry, she pioneered a movement that taught about growing fresh food in a way that ameliorated the environment. 'Slow food', as it is known now, is regarded as an excellent substitute to fast food and has gone popular with its Alice Waters at its helms. Also, appreciable is her effort to create edible schoolyard program at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley in Calif. She wanted the children to know to cultivate themselves to connect to community around them. One of the most influential restaurateurs, the story of Alice Waters is something the children is sure to find inspiring.
It all started in Paris when Alice Waters was a student of French Cultural history in Berkeley in California and later had to flee to Sorbonne as she hated the strong student activism in the campus. During the stay, she got obsessed with French food that instilled a desire in her to start a cafe of her own. In 1971, borrowing $10,000 from her father, she started Chez Panisse, the name which was taken from a 1940 film.
The first 12 years of the restaurant witnessed her as chef, critic as well as an inspiration to other chefs. Waters was herself in front of the restaurant to welcome the guests. She also had an astonishing list of delicacies of her own. From the initial period itself, the restaurant was intended as a place where Alice could entertain her friends. As they found it difficult to get fresh and high quality ingredients, Waters started having a network of local artisans, farmers and producers that sourced the ingredients for the restaurant.
The most noteworthy achievement of Waters and her restaurant has been her effort to use ingredients that are more organic. Being a crusader of organic food, she showed how to run a restaurant business by prioritising the health of the people and the betterment of the environment. According to Walters, she was just after the taste of the organic food and ended up at the doorstep of the farmers. Her efforts also included having an organic food agenda for the school lunch programs in America, which included organic fruits and vegetables, and changing the way the Americans ate. Now, Chez Panisse is one of the most renowned and popular restaurants in the world. During the celebration of restaurants' 25th anniversary, Waters pioneered the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996 that transformed the entire concept of public education by using food to nurture, teach and empower young people. The primary mission of the foundation was to establish an edible schoolyard program at Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. Started on a 1-acre organic garden, students were involved in growing, harvesting and preparing the food at the garden to promote the environmental and social well being of the school.
Waters had a much broader intention to bring schoolchildren under a new relationship by making a healthy and fresh meal a part of the school day. This school lunch initiative was a groundbreaking concept that focused on bringing the entire schoolchildren of Berkeley Unified School district. In 2005, the foundation also gave a grant to Berkeley schools and appointed Ann Cooper as the Director of Nutrition Services. This resulted in the elimination of the processed foods and the inclusion of organic fruits and vegetables in the daily menu of the schools in Berkeley. Waters vision also was to teach subjects such as history, science and art through the medium of food.
In a world that has become obsessed to fast food and harmful food habits, Alice Waters set an example for the posterity to follow. It is through her determination and the effort that she took to ensure that that the younger generation was not victimized to fast food, which made her a person whom the world perceived with awe.
Alice Waters, the mother of organic food revolution, is known for her Chez Panisse and organic garden projects in schools. Get inspired by this great mother and her ground-breaking concepts.