Chez Panisse’s birthday kicks off with party to remember

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

Last 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 Friday at the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum, where a portrait of Waters bound for The Smithsonian was revealed, 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 with 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, will host a $500 Provencal-style meal prepared by Traci Des Jardins tonight
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.

Today, the fun and fundraising shifts with OPENeducation at BAM (free, and open to the public but no more reservations available). Crops will be harvested, shoes will be cooked, a cop car will get 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 are 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.

Sarah Henry is the voice behind Lettuce Eat Kale. You can follow her on Twitter and become a fan of Lettuce Eat Kale on Facebook.  

Related:
Local restaurants raise money for edible education [08.26.11]
The frenzy around Chez Panisse’s 40th birthday [08.26.11]
Fundraising underpins Chez Panisse’s birthday celebrations [08.01.11]
Berkeley Bites: Alice Waters [10.22.10]