Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Salute to Alice Waters of Chez Panisse
Throughout the history of Haute Cuisine, women have been considered the silent partner of the food industry. Much to our satisfaction, this role is now being reversed.
Women were the caregivers and the ones who nourished the tribes, their children and those of other families, while men held the arduous task of bringing back the bacon as we say, whether it was our cavemen ancestors or our more contemporary businessmen. We cooked, we passed on traditions from one generation to another, we refined ingredients and recipes and made sure that all around us, young and old, went to sleep with a full belly and a sigh of satisfaction.
In France, the regional cooking was in the hands of “Mères”, solemn matriarchs who ruled on the authenticity of traditional recipes. I will always remember my first visit at La Mère Brazier and being intimidated by the larger than life stature of this incredible woman, the only female chefs to have won six Michelin stars during the span of her career.
In the world of restaurants, over dominated by our male counterparts, it is twice as difficult and twice as timely for women to make their mark. And yet, because of our innate skills, persistence, consistency, endurance, ability to focus, precision and love of nurturing, we, as women chefs are becoming recognized as being as competent and talented as men, if not more creative.
But most of all, because woman naturally have a better vision for long-time goals and projection into the future, it is women who have been the biggest advocates for organic food and sustainable fishing and farming as well as environmental protection.
The story of Alice Waters, the chef and owner of Chez Panisse, is a storybook example of how things are made possible by a relentless pursuit of excellence. Alice may well singlehandedly be responsible for the resurgence of Farmers Markets across America. She grew up in New Jersey but came to California to receive a college degree in French Cultural Studies. During her time at UC Berkeley, Alice studied abroad in France, where she shopped for local produce and prepared fresh foods simply in order to enhance the experience of the table.
She brought this style of food preparation back to Berkeley, where she popularized the concept of market-fresh cooking with the local products available to her in Northern California. Central to the operations and philosophy of Chez Panisse is Waters’ and the restaurant’s dedication to using organic ingredients. Waters has become a crusader for organic foods, believing that they are both better for the environment and for people’s health in addition to tasting superior to commercially-grown, non-organic foods.
The titles of her books also represent this philosophy well: “The Art of Simple Food”, “In the Green Kitchen”, “The Power of Gathering” and “Slow Food : The Case for Taste”, in addition to the many books devoted to the recipes of “Chez Panisse”.
If you have a secret Santa or receive a gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Nobles for the holidays, I strongly recommend that you purchase one of Alice Waters books and I am certain that you will be fascinated, emulated and thoroughly interested in this discovery.