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Sep 14, 2006 05:15 PM

history of Chez Panisse

Thanks to David Lebovitz' blog, I found this link to a "juicy" (his word) history of Chez Panisse:

It's very interesting, reads a bit like a daytime soap. I wonder if Food TV will ever cover the story as a Recipe for Success.

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  1. Alice Waters: bad motherf**ker. You learn something every day.

    1. I once met Alice at a foodie event in Philadelphia, and I suggested that her next book ought to be, not about cooking, but about management. How she had persuaded so many good people to contribute their skills and hard work to Chez Panisse would make a great informative book. And, make no mistake about it, she did that without showing the sweat or grit that so many others, embarked on the same course, would have displayed. Alice smiled, was very gracious and non-committal, and, as before, went her own way. So her story, the real story, the valuable story, may never be told.

      1 Reply
      1. re: EclecticEater

        I don't think many other restaurants could duplicate the appeal of Chez Panisse. Or survive for as many years as it did before it started making money.

      2. You should read Jeremiah Tower's book "California Dish". He was the first exec. chef at Chez Panisse and readily shares his opinions of Alice...

        BTW, in celebration of the 35th Anniversary of Chez Panisse there is a 2007 calender available at, which features some of their great posters.

        1. fascinating....thanks for the link. More of an insight into Towers than Waters, perhaps.

          My first knowledge of CP was in the 70's when everybody in the archie program at Cal Poly began collecting Goines' posters. Even then the cafe was out of our price league, but a legend, something to aspire to. Never have made it.

          Les Blanc documented a dinner CP did to celebrate garlic (in part of his film 'Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers')--apparently Waters (or Towers?) commissioned piglets to be raised for the dinner; their mother was fed whole heads of garlic so the piggies would drink garlic milk, and taste of garlic themselves.

          Learned to peel garlic from that movie!

          2 Replies
          1. re: toodie jane

            I had some garlic-milk-fed piglet at one of those Bastille Day garlic dinners. After two or three other intensely garlicky dishes, the garlic in the pork wasn't noticeable.

            One year they had a bottomless bowl of aioli.

          2. For a history of Chez Panisse as a social and culinary institution rather than a reality TV show, see
            I knew these people before there was a restaurant; not only do they understand food, but I would trust them with my credit card and pin number.

            1 Reply
            1. re: John Whiting

              Thanks for the link, John. I really enjoyed the article.