Monday, October 26, 2009

Chez Panisse

Location: Berkeley, CA
Years: 1971-Present
Founder: Alice Waters

Chez Panisse was founded in 1971 by Alice Waters, with the firm belief in the superiority of seasonal and local ingredients. Waters is a pioneer of sorts in this department, and Chez Panisse has helped to cultivate a network of local farmers and sustainable agriculturalists over the past forty years. Chez Panisse has been a force for local and slow food longer than nearly any other restaurant, and Alice Waters has since gone on to found more organizations associated with this cause, such as the Edible Schoolyard, and is also the Vice-President of Slow Food International.

On the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Chez Panisse restaurant, Waters founded the Chez Panisse foundation, aimed at educating and empowering youth to make better food choices, and advocate for reform of the school lunch program. By integrating food into the school curriculum, the Foundation hopes to engender values of sustainability and nutrition in the next generation. The Edible Schoolyard project at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley is the first model garden/kitchen that the Foundation established, with a one acre garden supplying the school’s lunch program, and teachers integrating the garden into their curricula. Alice Waters ultimately has become a pioneer in the movement, establishing a similar program at the university level with the Yale Sustainable Food Project, and has written nine cookbooks, raising her profile to the national scale. The Chez Panisse Foundation has also produced several publications explaining what has been learned by the Edible Schoolyard.

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