Truth in advertising: I grew up in Berkeley and, from Chez Panisse’s beginnings in 1971, my parents were great fans—and great friends—of Alice Waters and her restaurant. My mother, a food writer and critic in the Bay Area, spent every Bastille Day in the Chez Panisse kitchen peeling garlic for the restaurant’s annual July 14th celebration. When my mother died in 2006, Alice touchingly invited my dad to dine at the restaurant any time, even without his wife (he had celebrated many birthdays at Chez P, and on each occasion the menu mysteriously included his two favorite items: duck for the main course, and a lemon tart for dessert). Over the years, Alice has used her Chez Panisse Foundation to champion the Edible Schoolyard and other efforts to bring healthy, sustainable food to communities across the country. Indeed, the restaurant’s 40th anniversary celebrations last August raised funds for these projects. This beautiful book, Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering (Clarkson Potter, $55) by Alice Waters and Friends, which includes a foreword by Calvin Trillin and an afterword by Michael Pollan, tells the story of Chez Panisse through photos, recollections, and the iconic posters that artist David Lance Goines made for the restaurant over many years. More than a collector’s item, this is a lively celebration of Chez Panisse and its revolutionary role in making local, seasonal, and sustainable food a building block of community—and gathering—across our country.
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