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.  

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]

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  • deirdre

    Very fun piece!

  • Frank

    Chez Panisse celebrated their 40th anniversary by generously
    throwing a free high quality pizza party at the Pizza Collective.  Free delicious pizza and excellent jazz to
    any and all who came to join the celebration! The spirit of the gathering was
    beautiful; people were gently dancing and smiling on each other with a sense of
    community pervasive in the evening air. 
    This was as wholesome as it gets. 
    It was not a rowdy, rude, obnoxious or intoxicated gathering.  It was just the good people of Berkeley
    young and old hanging out together enjoying the cool of the night, free pizza,
    jazz and each others company.


    But we live in a time where a good natured gathering of
    sober, friendly, polite people is forbidden by the police of Berkeley
    unless it is formally sanctioned by the city with permits.  So on a Saturday evening at around 10:30pm at the Pizza Collective in the
    business district of Gourmet Ghetto the Berkeley
    police gradually squelched and finally shut down this peaceful life affirming
    gathering.  There was no yelling or
    idiotic hooting.  It’s not like this is
    even a heavily residential area, so who was to be bothered by the festive


    People were first ushered off the street and then ultimately
    told to disperse off the sidewalk.  The
    police were patient but it was not the manner of their actions that was the
    problem it was thier decision to disperse the crowd. 


    Dancing in the street vs. police and police cars in the
    street; in both cases the same part of the road is blocked and in neither case
    was the scarce late evening traffic impeded. 
    Shattuck is double-laned in that location and a single lane was
    sufficient for good flow.  As for public
    safety, the people were obviously competent and being careful to be safe.  There was no danger.


    The first amendment states that we have the right to
    peaceably assemble(1), NOT that we
    have the right to peaceably assemble if the city(2) issues a permit! If we are
    even forbidden to share pizza and laughter together without a city permit then
    how much less can we expect when we need to insist upon assembling for an
    unsanctioned and much more urgent and perhaps contentious political protest? 


    It is completely illogical to expect the people to be
    required to ask for permission from the existing order, to be allowed to
    protest against the existing order.  Actually
    it is logical; why would the existing order allow an effective protest against the existing order?


    As the jazz musician said to the police just as this event
    was being gently but certainly foreclosed, “Remember we live in free country.”  I have my doubts.




    1. First Amendment States: 
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
    religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
    speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
    to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    2. “Originally, the First Amendment applied only to
    laws enacted by the Congress. However, starting with Gitlow v. New York, 268
    U.S. 652 (1925),
    the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process
    Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to
    each state,
    including any local government.” – Wikipedia


  • I told the officer there was free pizza inside if he wanted a snack and then he gave me sort of a sour look and said no thanks.

  • guest

    Sighhhhh.  I love the police officers who keep us all safe but I wish they could see all sides before making judgements on events like this one.


  • Heather W.

    I don’t think the police were making a judgment. It may not have been popular, but they were upholding the law, which is a noise ordinance issue after 10 p.m. I’m sure they had multiple complaints before 10 p.m., but after that time they had to disperse the cause of the “disturbance”. The businesses on that block (in particular the Cheese Board) should have applied for a permit which most likely would have been granted, given the occasion. As it was, the party should have shut down at 10 p.m. (apparently the festivities were slated to go on until midnight) or gotten a permit. In the end, though, the police just did what they were supposed to do. It’s not their fault. 

  • whatever – this story sucks

    elitism at its finest. “slow food” is great for those who can afford it. Typical upper crust Berkeley liberal elitist a-holes who think that $100 a plate is reasonable for lunch. Like Gwenith Paltrow telling her readers that a wonderful cure for depression is travel and that spring is a lovely time to visit Italy – so out of touch with main stream society. 

    I’m all for sustainable yield foods and intelligent choices, but these photos make me sick. I guarantee there’s a homeless person not 2 blocks from this affair starving in the gutter while people on their way to the event wouldn’t cross the street to spit on them. 

    Shame on you elitists. 

  • Winnie

    In general, Chez Panisse’s standard has gone down. Our family was there a year ago and was very disappointed at the food and the service.  It was not where it used to be in terms of quality.  There are quite a few restaurants nowadays are better than CP.

  • Ebon_blade

    Uh dude do you even know what you are talking about.  do you by meat? do you by vegetables? That’s all that’s needed to cook slow food.  No one said you had to go to their party simply make your own.

  • no one said you had to read it

  • I S

    Never found their food to be that great. Good marketing, lousy food and service for what you pay. I guess if you act Sophisticated and one of the wannabees and claim you went to Chez Panisse . I will pass, but happy celebrations , never spoil a good party.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing!  I’m excited that the movement will be coming to towns all across America.  It’s great that kids are learning not to fear veggies and that wholesome food is better for health.