Tag Archives: Alice Waters

Chez Panisse contingent head to Cuba, public welcome

A Cuban farmer talks about growing greens with a visitor. Photo: Varun Mehra
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In the last year, Chez Panisse chefs, staff, and alum have embarked on gourmet global diplomacy trips to Japan (in an informal expedition under the auspices of a group known as OPENrestaurant) and China (in a formal affair the restaurant’s owner, Alice Waters,  presided over herself.) Now comes word that a contingent from the acclaimed restaurant are headed to Cuba to plant seeds of change on the food and farming front — and learn a thing or two about Cuban cuisine and growing greens from this Carribbean island country.

What’s more the trip, scheduled for December 4-12, coincides with the Havana Film Festival, and is open to the public. The delegation includes Chez Panisse downstairs chef Jerome Waag, former Chez Panisse pizzaiolo Charlie Hallowell, Steve Sullivan from Acme Bread (a former Chez Panisse chef), and Cuban-American line cook Danielle Alvarez, who will set foot on Cuban soil for the first time. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley group has plan to fix school food in Oakland

Cooking classes at Met West High School in Oakland. Photo: Tyler, Center for Ecoliteracy
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The meeting was held in San Francisco earlier this week at the offices of SPUR, a nonprofit created to promote good planning and good government. The focus of the discussion: an ambitious plan to overhaul Oakland Unified School District‘s inadequate and antiquated school food service. But the driving force behind what could be a model program for re-imagining school lunch in large school districts around the nation is a Berkeley-based nonprofit that has quietly been rethinking school lunch for many years.

No, not that nonprofit. The Center for Ecoliteracy recently released a detailed feasibility study that, if implemented, would amount to a massive makeover for the OUSD school food program. It includes recommendations for a newly outfitted, green central commissary with a 1.5-acre edible farm in West Oakland, refurbished existing kitchens, and the development of 14 school-based community kitchens dotted throughout the school district, which serves 38,000 students at 101 schools, 70% of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The community kitchens are envisaged as places where budding edible entrepreneurs and local organizations with a food focus could work, for a fee, during after-school hours. … Continue reading »

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Bartavelle owner: What’s cooking for ex-Café Fanny space

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Suzanne Drexhage is living proof of the adage that things come to those who wait.

Drexhage, who has worked at Berkeley wine purveyor Kermit Lynch for a dozen years, hosted her own pop-up restaurant events, served at Chez Panisse, and cooked with some of the most creative folks on the Berkeley food scene, has been scouting around for several years for a space to open her own place.

So, when Café Fanny closed in March after 28 years of serving frothy cappuccinos, poached eggs, and Acme toast, Drexhage was delighted to get the go-ahead to open Bartavelle Coffee & Wine Bar, a café-wine bar with a modern vibe and a European feel, in the slip of a space formerly co-owned by Alice Waters and Jim Maser of Picante. … Continue reading »

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Community seeks life support for school edible programs

The end of salad days for BUSD students? Photos: Rivka Mason
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This week, Berkeley parents and community members rallied to find ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three local elementary schools.

The programs at Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington, whose combined budgets are  $372,000, are threatened because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal monies as they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program.

At a meeting at Malcolm X on Monday night, about two dozen people representing the three schools and the South Berkeley community hashed out ideas to find money in the short-term — and discussed the bigger-picture concern of making these programs sustainable,  as well as available to all BUSD students over the long haul. … Continue reading »

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New edition of gardening bible for a gardener’s paradise

Photo courtesy of Sunset
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Tonight, at Builders Booksource on Berkeley’s Fourth Street, Kathleen Brenzel will introduce the new, ninth, edition of the “Sunset Western Garden Book“, the iconic gardening bible which is in its 80th year.

Brenzel, Sunset’s Garden Editor, paused on her busy book tour to answer some questions posed by Berkeleyside. Naturally we selected to focus on Berkeley.

What do you think of when you think of Berkeley and gardening?
Diversity. Woodland, meadow, and even tropical gardens thrive here. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school gardening, cooking programs face cuts

Sharing the pleasures of an outdoor table: The delicious revolution at Malcolm X.
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Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools – Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington — are in jeopardy of losing their entire cooking and gardening program funds beginning in October this year.

Under existing guidelines, the schools will no longer qualify for federal funding because they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program, according to Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district.

Berkeley has an international reputation for its edible schoolyards, where public school children of all economic means learn what it takes to grow a radish and sauté some chard. Such funding cuts to the program, whose total budget is $1.94 million a year, would represent a significant setback in the city’s pioneering efforts to date.

School gardening and cooking champion Alice Waters, whose Chez Panisse Foundation helped fund the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, expressed dismay at the potential budget cuts to programs. “It’s inevitable cuts will come — people think these programs are dispensable and the state of California is in a financial crisis — but it’s a tragedy,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Blue Bottle offers consolation to Café Fanny patrons

Blue Bottle at Cafe Fanny
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There was some consolation for patrons turning up to Café Fanny this morning for breakfast only to discover it had closed down permanently yesterday: a Blue Bottle cart had set up shop in the parking lot next to Café Fanny, and no doubt the Oakland-brewed coffee was welcomed, although many are pining for the departed eatery’s beignets, bowls of café au lait and signature granola. [Hat-tip: Aaron Glimme.]

Café Fanny, which was co-owned by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame, closed abruptly … Continue reading »

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‘It’s the end of a generation. Fanny has grown up’

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Alice Waters came to Café Fanny Friday morning with a funeral wreath to commemorate the closing of the café she opened 28 years ago.

As a long line of people waited to get their last servings of poached eggs on toasted Acme levain bread, beignets, and steaming bowls of café au lait, an emotional Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse restaurant and edible schoolyard pioneer, expressed sadness that the café was closing. She said that the café was losing money, and, with the divorce of the other co-owners, Jim and Laura Maser, Café Fanny had ceased to be a happy place, which is a critical ingredient in the success of any restaurant endeavor.

…See a photo gallery of Café Fanny’s last day

“It seemed like the end of an era,” said Waters. “You want to have someone home at a café. You want at a restaurant to have people who love it. I can’t take care of it now the way it needs to be taken care of. I just didn’t want to disappoint people who expect a certain something when they come here, whether it is a café au lait, a poached egg or a beignet. It is very hard to change a place.” … Continue reading »

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Alice Waters’ Café Fanny in West Berkeley to close

Cafe Fanny on San Pablo Avenue, which is closing Friday March 9. Photo: shinasfo.exblog
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Café Fanny, which is co-owned by Chez Panisse restaurateur Alice Waters, is closing. Tomorrow will be the café’s last day, according to staff at the popular eatery who were only informed of the development today.

A senior staff member said the reason given for the abrupt shuttering was that the café was not financially viable.

Café Fanny was opened by Jim Maser (who also owns Berkeley’s Picante) and his sister-in-law Alice Waters in 1984 and named after the heroine in Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s movies, as well as Waters’ daughter.

A statement from the owners reads:

Twenty-­eight years ago Café Fanny was conceived in the spirit of Marcel Pagnol’s trilogy -­ a love story involving the whole community, centered around a little standup café.

So it is with a heavy heart that we are closing Café Fanny today after 28 memorable years. … Continue reading »

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Awards tap Berkeley taste makers for national contest

Good Food Awards Judges: Dafna Kory (photo: Jeffery Kong); Michael Pollan and Alice Waters (James Collier) and June Taylor (Leigh Connors).
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Berkeley’s food mavens will likely be out in force tonight at the Good Food Awards at San Francisco’s Ferry Building and many of the judges for this annual event — sponsored by Seedling Projects and now in its second year — hail from this city’s gourmand ranks. But only one Berkeley name may find a place on the winners’ podium.

The concept behind this socially and ethically responsible food contest is to highlight “best in show” from five regions of the country in various edible categories. This year, prizes will go to makers of beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles, preserves, and — a new area — spirits.

At last year’s soirée — with a keynote address by restaurateur and sustainable food champion Alice Watersthree Berkeley winners emerged in the beer, charcuterie, and pickles categories. … Continue reading »

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Top food stories from Berkeley in 2011

Andre Green from the Berkeley Food & Housing Project cooks for the neediest in the community. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back to see what food stories created a buzz around town and on Berkeleyside in 2011.

Granted, there’s an arbitrary nature to such end-of-year lists. But it’s an opportunity to take stock of the city’s culinary culture.

For the purposes of this post we’ve focused on food news stories, which doesn’t take into account the dozens of interviews with foragers, farmers, artisans, advocates, chefs, cooking teachers, preservers, pasta makers, cheese purveyors, pop-up restaurateurs, and farmers’ market vendors we’ve published during 2011.

This year also saw controversial coverage of corner stores, reporting on detractors of school food, an insider’s take on speed dating with a veg-friendly focus, and a widely criticized first-person piece on disappointing camp chow.

Readers may differ on what food stories caught their attention. Feel free to add your own highlights (or low points) in the comments section.

In alphabetical order: … Continue reading »

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New guide aims to improve school food beyond Berkeley

Food conference
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Regular readers may think that the only person in town doing anything to fix school food in Berkeley and beyond is Alice Waters via her Edible Schoolyard Project.

But that perception would be wrong. Founded in 1995, the Center for Ecoliteracy has also long championed school food reform and channeled funding in the millions to garden programs, cooking classes, and nutrition-based curriculum in Berkeley public schools.

Along with the Chez Panisse Foundation and Berkeley Unified School District, the Center for Ecoliteracy also implemented the School Lunch Initiative, which kickstarted local, seasonal, and sustainable food for students here and connected the classroom and the cafeteria. … Continue reading »

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Alice Waters, Robert Reich talk up a delicious revolution

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It was all very Alice: a fire pit outside, a large screen projecting Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the stage, and, next to her chair, an artfully arranged assortment of fresh-picked fruit delivered to her door by farmer friends.

Alice Waters, a one-time Montessori teacher, wanted to stimulate her students’ senses. So, last Tuesday, that’s how she kicked off her turn to talk at the Edible Education 101 fall lecture series at UC Berkeley, funded by her own Chez Panisse Foundation.

And, in an inspired piece of programming, the woman with a big, broad vision for food reform in schools and beyond, who speaks in a small, wispy way and sometimes appears uncomfortable, even a little lost alone in the spotlight, invited the jovial Cal public policy professor and economics expert Robert Reich to join her on stage for a conversation in front of a close to capacity crowd at Wheeler Hall. … Continue reading »

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