I had the great pleasure and honor of meeting Alice Waters this week and hearing her speak for the Executives Club of Chicago about her extraordinary career as the founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schools movement that has served 26,000+ students at over 6200 schools across the country.
Here are some of my favorite questions and answers with Alice as moderated by Chicago Restaurant icon, Paul Kahan, Executive Chef and Partner, One Off Hospitality, earlier this week.
Paul: What makes you most concerned about this age in Industrial Farming?
Alice: We are living in a sensory-deprived age. We have been so exposed to the industrial food system in the Pandemic. I have to say, it has only been 60-70 years that we have imported any food in this country besides coffee, tea and spices. We need to return to eating locally-grown food for climate, for health and for taste.
Paul: Tell us how you ended up founding the Edible Schoolyard movement?
Alice: One of the local principals in Berkeley asked me to partner with him on the development of a school garden. My vision was to use the garden and cafeteria not just to teach farming and cooking but academics (science, etc.). The kitchen/garden/classroom pilot worked: 95% of the kids ate what they grew or cooked. Schools are the perfect place to teach that the connection between people seated at the table and what they are eating matters.
Paul: What can executives take away from your life experience for theirs?
Alice: Sit down with your peers and have lunch.
“It is the proof that people want to sit down and eat….together. Eating together is as important as what is on the plate.”
Edible Schoolyard Program (https://edibleschoolyard.org)
NEW! The University of Davis School of Regenerative Farming and Edible Education
Her goals: “I am very interested in making a model (that scales). I have made two so far in my life: one is a restaurant in Berkeley, one was an edible school program that started in Berkeley. Solving for the Missing piece: how you cook affordable food and take care of the farmer with school-supported farming, like we do at Chez Panisse.“
To learn more about tremendous Executives Club of Chicago events, go to: https://www.executivesclub.org/
To find Alice’s latest book, “40 Years of Chez Panisse and the Power of Gathering,” find it here: https://a.co/d/5zmCEIZ