Alice Waters, the first woman to win the James Beard Award in 1992, has often been touted as the visionary chef who took California cuisine in a bold new direction, introducing a celebration of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. In addition to her well-established Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse (opened in 1971), Chef Waters has also made a lasting impression on schoolchildren in the region and beyond: her “Edible Schoolyard” project, started at a middle school in Berkeley over two decades ago, and dedicated to teaching children the value of eating healthy, organic, locally-sourced foods, has been a template for similar projects all over the country.
Waters is also the Vice President of Slow Food International, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting regional organic crops; its “Ark of Taste” includes foods from all ecoregions throughout the world. Needless to say, Chez Panisse’s cuisine focuses on these concepts and much of its cuisine is locally sourced. Prix-fixe dinners are worth the splurge; there’s also a café with a lunch menu (the prix-fixe option is always a great deal for the amazing food).