In 1971, she opened Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, which became one of the most famous restaurants in the country. At a time when the food world was obsessed with speed and convenience, Waters slowed down in pursuit of perfection. She focused on fresh produce from local, organic farms long before it was trendy or expected.
She was also only 27 at the time. In her highly anticipated memoir, Coming to My Senses, Waters traces the events that led her to Chez Panisse: growing up in suburbia, traveling through France, and, perhaps most importantly, living immersed in the counterculture of 1960s Berkeley. The book comes out today via Penguin Random House.
Unlike other big-name chefs in the Bay Area, Waters never expanded Chez Panisse beyond its single location. Instead, she expanded into food activism, inspiring a flurry of vegetable gardens being planted in schools nationwide. Now, the focus of her Edible Schoolyard Project is school lunch reform. Imagine the possibilities if more chefs followed her lead.