Chez Panisse
Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, California

Prix Fixe Dinner:
Mon- $38.00 per person
Tues-Thur- $58.00 per person
Fri & Sat- $68.00 per person
Closed Sunday

Recipes from the book Chez Panisse Vegetables.

Samples of Dinner Menus

A letter to President Clinton about sustainable agriculture.

With this issue, we start a new feature at Onlinechef- interviews and recipes from well-known chefs and their restaurants. And we decided to start with one of the most influential chefs in America , Alice Waters. Under her strong guidance, her restaurant, Chez Panisse, has been turning out incredible food and notable restauranteurs for over 25 years. To "foodies", Alice Waters needs no introduction. But for the rest of the audience, let's join Anne Bain and Alice Waters and eaves drop on their conversation...

Onlinechef: Alice, you've had such an amazing influence on food in America for so many years. Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a chef?

Alice: No, not at all. When I was 19, I was a student living in France. My home was on the other side of a farmer's market and I walked through that market every day on my way to school. I think I just absorbed that love of fresh ingredients through osmosis. When I came back to California, I wanted those same food stuffs here. Unfortunately, it took a long time to develop a local farming system to produce and support fresh, local ingredients.

Onlinechef: What sort of ingredients were missing? It seems we have an abundance of produce in Northern California.

Alice: Unusual ingredients. I started shopping at Chinese markets in Berkeley and also soliciting produce from nearby gardens. Especially, radishes and sorrel. I had a friend living in Nice, France who sent me some mesclun seeds so I could grow fresh lettuces. (Note: mesclun is a mixture of baby greens sometimes sold in upscale grocery stores as spring mix.) I think I'm the cause of the mesclun craze in American restaurants! We tried to have salad greens planted here in Berkeley but our farm efforts failed.

Onlinechef: How did you supply your restaurant with produce and other raw ingredients?

Alice: We finally arrived at the solution of hiring a full-time "forager" for our restaurant. His job is to interview farmers for the restaurant to see if they have the organic farming practices we're looking for and for the quality of their ingredients. This is the system we use for all our vendors, from produce to dairy to meat. We have a total of 75 different vendors that supply our restaurants.

Onlinechef: Restaurants? What other restaurants are connected to your business?

Alice: We have our Cafe upstairs from Chez Panisse plus Cafe Fanny, a small coffee house, named after my daughter, Fanny.

Onlinechef: I remember reading that President Clinton had dinner at Chez Panisse about a year ago. That must have been a nerve-wracking experience.

Alice: Yes, it certainly was but I've cooked for him outside of the restaurant as well. You know, I've also written President Clinton several letters stressing the need for a sustainable agriculture as the backbone to a strong community. He's always stressing a need for a strong community in America and good family values. We need more families sitting down and eating dinner together.

Onlinechef: What projects, outside of the restaurant, are you involved in at the moment?

Alice: I'm working with the Edible Schoolyard Project at a public middle school here in Berkeley. The school has 780 students and we're planting a 1/2 acre plot on the school property and showing the children how to take care of the land. The garden will supply the school lunch program and the students will do all the harvesting, cooking, and serving of the food. We've remodeled the cafeteria kitchen which hasn't been used in 17 years and, eventually, we will be building a new lunchroom and kitchen. We want to make this a model project to show the students where their food comes from, to respect both the food and the land that produced it, and, hopefully, to use this as the model for all institutional food service.

Another project will be connected with the UC Berkeley art museum. We are installing a inexpensive restaurant connected to the museum that the student's could enjoy. The food will be simple and the restaurant will be supported by local farms and growers. Again, we hope to use this as a model for similar projects in the future.

Onlinechef: Lastly, for those online who aren't familiar with your food, how would you describe your style?

Alice: Well, it's definately Mediterranean-inspired. Simple, straight-forward food incorporating olive oil, vegetables, and grains. We pair it with French and sometimes Spanish or Italian wine from Kermit Lynch, the wine importer, and our biggest supplier.

At Chez Panisse, we've always had a prix fixe menu that changes every day. We serve dinner only and the prices vary during the week. (Note: see below for menu, times, and prices) Our downstairs restaurant seats 50 and the upstairs Cafe, a more inexpensive option serving both lunch and dinner, seats 70.

Onlinechef: Alice, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. We wish you well and continued success for another 25 years.

Chez Panisse
Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, California

Prix Fixe Dinner:
MONDAY- $38.00 per person
TUESDAY-THURSDAY- $58.00 per person
FRIDAY & SATURDAY- $68.00 per person

**To the online community: We've printed a few recipes from Alice Waters' newest cookbook,
Vegetables, (HarperCollins Press) to illustrate her clean, straight-forward style of cooking. In addition, we've also included a weekly menu from Chez Panisse and the upstairs Cafe. Enjoy!