On Friday night, Alice Waters launched the weekend-long fȇte for the restaurant she founded 40 years ago with a portrait unveiling and a food-inspired procession. Chez Panisse, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and the art and food collective OPENrestaurant held a cocktail party at the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum, marking the opening of several days of celebratory and fundraising activities.
“I just love that this portrait was taken at the Edible Schoolyard in the fall,” said a teary Waters to a packed and adoring audience. “This represents the future… and we’re not just going to do this in Berkeley or Brooklyn… we’re going to bring this to the whole country.”
The procession included children carrying goats, beekeepers in full protective gear, and recycling guys with shiny new carts. In the crowd: rock-star chefs, an actual rock star (David Byrne), Slow Food advocates, edible education champions – and anyone who paid $100 for a ticket for the privilege of rubbing shoulders with aforementioned folk. Spotted at the party: California Governor Jerry Brown, former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, Slow Food guru Carlo Petrini, and Senator Barbara Boxer, among others.
Paula LeDuc Fine Catering provided food with unimpeachable pedigree from farmers and purveyors Waters knows well. The Chez Panisse-inspired menu included River Dog Farm corn soup spiced with chilies and flavored smoky pimento, handmade tamales from Primavera, Acme‘s Edible Schoolyard grilled levain with fresh Bellwether Farms sheep milk ricotta and Katz extra virgin olive oil with fresh herbs and radishes, Beaulieu Garden cherry tomatoes served in burlap bags, and Monterey Fish Market albacore tuna confit with olive oil, salt-cured capers and herbs on lipstick peppers.
Oh, and there were some pretty kick-ass summer cocktails: Lance Winters Spirits infused with herbs from the Edible Schoolyard, including lemon verbena, mulberry, and mint.
For those with seats at the table, the festivities continued with birthday eve dinners at the restaurant: Upstairs in the café, a seafood and best-of-summer vegetable feast (early and late seatings) for $150 per person. And in the downstairs dining room, a meal prepared by Chez Panisse chef Jean-Pierre Moulle with Sally Clarke of Clarke’s in London, hosted by Stanlee Gatti and Waters. Price tag: Undisclosed.
Saturday, the fun and fundraising shifted to OPENeducation at BAM (free and open to the public). Crops were harvested, shoes were cooked, and a cop car was covered in graffiti as part of an edible installation conceived by the next generation of Chez Panisse. A series of sold-out dinners around town cooked by top chefs were also on the menu Saturday.
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