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Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution
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Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution

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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,374 ratings  ·  323 reviews
Collectible, 1st edition hdbk. in Very Good condition. DJ and cover both very good, spine tight /sturdy, pages clean /unmarked. Book was purchased & shelved w/out being read. Black remainder mark on bottom edges near spine. Ships USPS media mail w/ Tracking # provided. Int'l buyers contact seller to confirm shipping details PRIOR to purchase. CL-3012018-2 ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 22nd 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Sarah
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir, food
I am grateful to Anthony Bourdain for summing it up so neatly when he described Alice Waters as "Pol Pot in a muu muu." Despite its effusive title and starstruck gushing at the outset, this book quickly revealed to me that while I am very glad to have dined at Chez Panisse, I am gladder still that I didn't run into Alice Waters while there. The book is readable and gossipy but paints a very unflattering portrait of Waters -- her imperiousness, privilege, and naive assumptions that everything wil ...more
Molly
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a big biography reader. Not yet, anyway. But every once in awhile, I come across a biography that examines its subject with such intelligence and style that I emerge from that book profoundly satisfied. Add this bio to that list. I started it not even a week ago and looked forward to every return. I'm done now, and I'm bummed. Appropriately, it was delicious -- at times critical, at times glowing, and always well written -- an account of the life and times of a woman and her restaurant.

O
...more
Schmacko
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There is a moment late in the book Alice Waters and Chez Panisse where author Thomas McNamee describes a dining experience with such detailed romance, it ends up being a little hard to believe. Still, I wanted so desperately to believe it: the purple poetry, the food and the place McNamee paints for us. I wanted to be there, eating and enjoying in that restaurant that was born of hippie haphazard in the early 1970 – the place that now is one of the most famous restaurants in the world:

As the foo
...more
Jessica
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was fine. Heavens knows I love cooking, restaurants, and food, but I felt like nobody in the book was very inspiring. Alice was a visionary but so much of the way she lived her life left me feeling like "why am I wasting my time reading 300 pages about her"? Also, the material and treatment of it just felt a little bit snobby. One of those books that you wish had been a five page article that you read in a magazine or something.
Irene
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
What I learned:

1. Baby pigeon is a squab.
2. Truffles on anything makes it better.
3. Slow food will prevent disease and obesity. Fast food be gone!
4. Butter is alright to use. use it. Forget the "i can't believe its not butter" mentality.
5. Life is not about the destination of the day, week, or year. The journey is what makes life liveable.
6. Things will work themselves out whether you have a meltdown or not. So don't have one.
7. It's better for you if it goes directly from the earth to the stove
...more
Mark Poons
Dec 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book was a major let down. A book about the "most important restaurant in America" should have been much better. The material was clearly available; the author just did a terrible job with it. He explains very little about the business side of chez Panisse, it is always loosing money but the author never explains how it stays afloat financially. Alice is always on the brink of a breakdown at the end of several chapters. Then turn the page and she is motivated again? What changed? The author ...more
Alison
Oct 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who watch too much food network; East Bay residents
Very lighthearted yet extensive look into Alice Waters, Chez Panisse and the birth of "California cuisine." It's remarkable how much of what started there now informs so much of American dining. However, the book relies slightly too much to the "Alice did everything first, no one had ever thought of stuff like this before" trope. Not to take any credit from her, but it seems unlikely that NO ONE NO WHERE EVER thought of using lots of local products and fresh produce and seasonal ingredients. Any ...more
Naida
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Foodies and other people looking to learn more about the slow food movement
A great book about one of the most influential women and restaurants in American cooking.
Alice Waters and the rest of the employees, chefs and the farmers that supply Chez Panisse were part of a revolutionary movement in American food. Local, organic and simple these were their beliefs and this is how they cook.

This book does a great job of outlining Alice's life and the development of Chez Panisse. If you're looking for recipes, this is not the book for you, but if you want to know more about
...more
Felicia Holtz
Mar 13, 2010 rated it liked it
This is an authorized biography but it is just as catty and chatty as an unauthorized version would have been. I am fascinated at the long, strange trip Alice Waters has been on. I am somewhat cynical that she singlehandedly brought about organic farming and local cuisine, but nonetheless, I am grateful for the battles she continues to fight on behalf of our nations food. This is a fun read that will also make you crave really good food.
Maureen
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't know what I was expecting from this book but it was an ok, kind of gossipy book. Not trashy enough for a 'beach read' but not that interesting otherwise. Maybe Alice Waters really is a flake who almost always falls upwards.
Carla Jean
Mar 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: foodies
Recommended to Carla Jean by: Elisa Munoz
Shelves: readin2008
It only took 100 pages to convince me that I have GOT to make a pilgrimage to Chez Panisse. Plans are already in the works...
Kathleen
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
if you like food,France, dream of opening a restaurant, and support organic farmers -- you'll love it. but beware, it makes you hungry!
Emily
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ms. Waters is a bit of an egocentric, to say the least. The book itself was too chatty.
Marisa
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution
By Thomas McNamee
ISBN 978-0143113089
400 Pp.
Reviewed by Marisa Kallenberger

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution is the first authorized biography of Chef Alice Waters. It serves as a chronological history of her personal growth as well as the evolution of her restaurant Chez Panisse, in Ber
...more
Julieann Wielga
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love Little Free Libraries. Fate takes a hand in the books one encounters and therefore reads.

I have come to believe that Alice Waters is a genius. Here is a sentence from her cookbook written in 1984."If you plant a garden, it can change your whole style of cooking. Even a tiny plot with just a few herbs, some salad greens, garlic, leeks and beans can have a dramatic effect....a small-scale garden can open a new world of grateful subservience to the seasons. Gardening can become your primary
...more
Nancy
Like many others, this book has literally been on my shelf for a couple of years. I first heard of Alice Waters when I participated in a local CSA and became more interested in fresh, local, organic food. I picked up this book somewhere along the way. This well-researched and well-written biography documents the growth of an individual and a movement. Alice appears to be fun and quirky, but also a perfectionist devoted to her ideas, and ultimately changing the way Americans eat. I doubt that I w ...more
Bill Keefe
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
It's taken me a few years to wade through this book. I think it's because, as informative as the book is, it's somewhat weighed down by the detail. There's something...well, boring about wading through the detail of so many examples of taste, of passion, of table setting, of affairs, of drama. Well, there's simply something weighty in general about knowing too much.

That's not to say I didn't get something out of the book. Alice Waters appears to be one of a kind; a maestra, in the sense of a mas
...more
Melissa
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Alice Waters is a badass. I love reading books about flawed characters (aren't we all?) who continue to defy the norms and boundaries of what is and is not or what should and should not be. Growing up on a farm and having grandparents who were farmers, I didn't know that food-to-table or slow food was a thing that not everyone had. We loved the idea of store bought cakes and Mac n cheese because as we grew up, that's how our friends ate. As I have grown up and has my own child, we have reverted ...more
Devin Bostick
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable rise of foodies in America and the local movement that helped it grow. Sure I’ll give it 5/5 because I love the story, the main points are there, and I love food. Did it pull in historical context, yes. Was it trying to focus on Alice and Chez Panisse, yes. Could it have focus on more history in a Robert Caro style way, 100%! Pull in Mark Kurlansky while you’re at it Thomas! The book overall did work and was quite enjoyable.
MinJi Yoon
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love first half especially, when Alice is learning about food and following what passions fall in her lap. I found the second half pretty dull. Her ideological crusade for slow food and sustainability seems great but its executed through courting the rich and famous. Overall the book and writing is a beautiful experience but often props Waters up as someone whose flaws and selfishness can be overlooked because of her charm, success, and dedication.
Mikedariano
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Good not great. Will be interesting for people who have been to Chez Panisse, want an insight to Berkley culture, or how to start a business. Waters's recent biography, 2016 or 2017 provides more Alice, less auxiliary characters but I'm glad this book had them.
Rebekah
Mar 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Three stars is probably a bit unfair. The book was beautifully written. I just wasn't as taken with Alice as I expected to be (granted my knowledge of her is from recipe descriptions in The Art of Simple Food). So, 4-5 stars for the writing, 3 stars for the subject.
Jennifer Smith
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enlightening. I am ashamed to admit that I was not impressed after my one visit to Chez Panisse, but now, having a better understanding of what she and the restaurant are truly about I want to revisit it.
In
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
You know that delicious farm to table quirky meal you ate in a renovated barn last month? You can thank Alice for much of that experience. This book will remind you that one person with an imagination and never say die effort can change a corner of society.
Meg Koch
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
The title is a synopsis of this book about a well known chef - her restaurant and her life. Great idea, but somehow the book was a slow read. Maybe too many details. Maybe needed stronger/better editing.
Emily
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really intriguing history and so great to hear how much impact it's truly had on the food world (and the Bay!).
JoJoff48
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Felt like me in Paris in 1973! Loved reading this right to the end. An inspiration and got me up out of my lassitudinal cooking slump.
Keri
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. It's a topic I love, but her life is also very rich, interesting and full of stories. It was well researched and written, engaging, inspiring and mouth watering.
Brooke Everett
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
An easy read that's just somehow overall agreeable: not too challenging, there's no reason to feel bad if you're sitting by the pool and you doze off for a second, but it's certainly not trashy, either.

Sometimes I'm not sure where I fit in as a traditional cog in a professional sense, since I handle so many tasks. I loved learning about this organization, which began in such a free-wheeling fashion, and seeing reflections of my own position and duties.

It's also a very interesting story about tra
...more
Robyn
Jun 10, 2012 marked it as did-not-finish
I'm giving this one up as a bad job. Chez Panisse is a legend around here, and when I was going to Cal even more so. When I asked my absolutely-uninterested-in-chefs-or-gourmet-food-or-expensive-restaurants mother if she knew who Alice Waters was, she immediately said "Yeah, I mean, essentially. I couldn't tell you anything about her, but I know she's from that restaurant in Berkeley that helped kick off the local food movement in the 70s." So, yeah, being a Bay Area girl born and raised and a B ...more
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