Chez Panisse Turns 50

These days my reference to time is about twenty years, even though it might have happened thirty years ago. Once I realize the reality of how long ago something happened, it hits me right between the eyes of reality. When I read that Chez Panisse turns 50 this month, it thought back to our first meal there.

Fred and I took an eight-week cross-country trip after graduating from college. We splurged going to Chez Panisse for dinner. It was in 1983. The prix fixe main course was pigeon—something we had just seen flying around Boston’s streets but how delicious it was. Alice Waters had already made her impact on how we eat.

Waters intertwined hospitality with local seasonal food. Many of the vegetables came right out of the restaurant’s yard. She opened our eyes to the food gaps around our table.

What is carried in our local grocery stores now from arugula, all-year-round tomatoes, fresh fish, mangos, and the list goes on. The movement prodded groceries to become larger with an eye on feeding everyone more interesting food all the time.

There is so much to be written about Alice Water’s impact on our food chain and what we eat, but the most interesting thing is how it has taken 50 years to really return to what she espoused from day one. We have come full circle returning to local products that are only served in the season with a true nod towards organic and less havoc on our environment. Eat what is grown locally while elevating our palates.