Chez Panisse’s Birthday Kicks Off With Cocktail Party

by Sarah Henry on August 30, 2011 · 16 comments

in berkeley bites,food events

Alice Waters next to a photographic portrait which will hang in The Smithsonian. All photos: Christina Diaz

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.

The new portrait of Alice Waters by Dave Woody. Image: Courtesy Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

“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.”

Alice Waters with daughter Fanny at Friday's fȇte at BAM.

The kids say it all: waiting to begin a procession at the opening celebration.


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.

Former Talking Head David Byrne with waitperson Marisa Fioroni, who models the T-shirt designed by Byrne for Levi's in support of the Edible Schoolyard Project.

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.

Paula LeDuc Fine Catering provided food with unimpeachable pedigree for the party.

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.

Ross Levy and The Jungle Effect author Daphne Miller, whose children attend BUSD schools, hosted a $500 Provencal-style meal prepared by Traci Des Jardine Saturday night.


The real rock stars: Edible Schoolyard staff, from left: Monica Linzer, chef teacher, Jason Uribe, garden teacher, Geoff Palla, garden manager, and Elena Garcia, Americorps member.

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.

Sam White, mastermind behind the food and art collective OPENrestaurant, and a Chez Panisse maître d', hosts OPENeducation today at BAM. Interactive cooking and gardening installation -- maybe even a boiled shoe -- and this cop car that kids can decorate with words.

All the gala event photos shown here were taken by Christina Diaz. View her album with more photos of the event.

This post originally appeared on Berkeleyside. You might also like:

Local restaurants raise money for edible education
Restaurants Raise Money for Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point
Alice Waters: Lunch, Levi’s and Edible Education
Alice Waters’ 40 Year Campaign for Good Food
Cultivating Controversy: In Defense of an Edible Education
Michelle Obama and Alice Waters: Let’s Do Breakfast
New School Food Study: Victory for Alice Waters
Berkeley’s School Lunch Makes its Big Screen Debut

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

judy stock September 1, 2011 at 11:19 am

Sarah, enjoyed this article. I was fortunate enough to eat at Chez Panisse some years ago when in Berkeley visiting my daughter. Very impressed. And, as luck would have it Alice arrived at her restaurant without fanfare. Much to our surprise there she was overseeing a cook and then making sure the wait staff had fresh bread to serve. If you are anywhere near Berkeley this restaurant is a must.
judy stock´s last [type] ..Strawberry Fields Forever


Sarah Henry September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Thanks, Judy, nice to see you here again. Love your AW story too, sounds pretty typical, she has incredible attention to detail. I’ve seen her hop off a plane from South America and then head straight to the Edible Schoolyard where she literally scooped up litter before the Surgeon General came to visit.


ruth pennebaker September 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I’m sad to say that the only time I went to Chez Panisse, years ago, I was sporting a temporary crown (of the dental variety). I gummed a few soft foods while my husband dined magnificently. I’m still a little bitter and plan to return, with all my choppers, someday soon.
ruth pennebaker´s last [type] ..The Times, They Have Changed A Whole Bunch


Sarah Henry September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Ruth, you’re a hoot. Reason to return #2.


Sheryl September 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I’ve never had the pleasure of dining at Chez Panisse…maybe one day? Alice Waters is quite a legend, isn’t she?


Sarah Henry September 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

The mother of American cuisine, some say.


Jane Boursaw September 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Great pics – and David Byrne! I heard they vowed never to get the Talking Heads back together, which makes me sad. Love his suit, though. He looks great.
Jane Boursaw´s last [type] ..Dark Matters with Dr. Walter Bishop, I mean John Noble


Sarah Henry September 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

I so wanted Byrne to come out in a big, boxy suit with a Boom Box. Know what I’m saying? He was extremely gracious.


Living Large in our Little House September 2, 2011 at 3:57 am

Sounds like a great place to try and a great time!


Sarah Henry September 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

You’d be surprised, LLLH, how many local folks are yet to set foot in Chez Panisse.


merr September 2, 2011 at 6:48 am

I know this is really about the food and culture and a movement, but how exciting to dine with David Byrne!


Sarah Henry September 2, 2011 at 9:35 am

I was just glad, merr, that he was a good sport for the camera — and I know we made that waiter’s night.


Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi September 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm

ARGH! Now I’m going to be craving fabulous foods with “same as it ever was” going through my head all day. I think you owe me!

PS-looks fantastic
Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi´s last [type] ..How well do you share?


Sarah Henry September 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm

And now I’ve had that line — “same as it ever was” — running around in my head all day, Ms. Melanie. So let’s call it even, okay?


MyKidsEatSquid September 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

What an event–can you please send me some of those handmade tamales?


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