Coming to My Senses
The long-awaited memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America's most influential restaurant.When Alice Waters opened the doors of her "little French restaurant" in Berkeley, California in 1971 at the age of 27, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape—Alice least of all. Fueled in equal parts by naiveté and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers. In Coming to My Senses Alice retraces the events that led her to 1517 Shattuck Avenue and the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity. Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman's evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Coming to My Senses Details

TitleComing to My Senses
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherClarkson Potter Publishers
ISBN-139780307718280
Rating
GenreFood and Drink, Food, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Biography Memoir

Coming to My Senses Review

  • Ally
    January 1, 1970
    I desperately wanted to like this book. I'm a huge fan of Alice Waters, her restaurant Chez Panisse, and the work that she has done with transforming the food culture in American. When the author was growing up, her family ate mostly convenience foods - mashed potato flakes, boxed cake mixes, etc. It wasn't until she spent a year abroad in France that she began to understand about flavor, freshness, and what it means to be thoughtful and intentional about your eating. She wanted to bring that ex I desperately wanted to like this book. I'm a huge fan of Alice Waters, her restaurant Chez Panisse, and the work that she has done with transforming the food culture in American. When the author was growing up, her family ate mostly convenience foods - mashed potato flakes, boxed cake mixes, etc. It wasn't until she spent a year abroad in France that she began to understand about flavor, freshness, and what it means to be thoughtful and intentional about your eating. She wanted to bring that experience back to her life in the US, so she opened her little french restaurant, Chez Panisse in 1971. From the very beginning, there was a set menu that all diners were given. It changed daily (nowadays, weekly), based on what protein, fruits, and veggies are freshest. Because they tend to have more flavor and nutrients, the priority is for locally and organically-grown foodstuffs, shunning the factory-farms. Chez Panisse was really the beginning of the farm-to-table concept of dining, thus playing a massive role in revolutionizing the way Americans eat. I, too, grew up with a family of non-cooks, so there were lots of "instant" and "pre-made" foods in the pantry. It wasn't until I was living on my own, after college, that I really paid attention to what I was eating and where it came from. This inspired me to learn to cook, and through which I discovered the Chez Panisse cookbooks. I've always identified with Alice, because of our similar food history, and considered her one of my greatest inspirations. I have first editions of all of her cookbooks (a few are signed), the restaurant's 40th anniversary commemorative book, a publishsed collection of beautifully designed menus, and the biography ALICE WATERS AND CHEZ PANISSE by Thomas McNamee. You could say that I'm a bit obsessed, which is why I was so excited to learn that she was releasing her memoir, COMING TO MY SENSES: THE MAKING OF A COUNTERCULTURE COOK. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.The story begins with Alice's parents, giving insight into their families, personalities, and relationships. Alice goes on to share a few pictures, anecdotes, and personal opinions about the culture and politics at play in her upbringing, as well as her relationship with her sisters, and memorable experiences that she had as a child. You follow her as she comes-of-age, explores romantic relationships, gets involved in politics and activism, and has her great food awakening - a movement that becomes a driving force in every aspect of her life. Much of this was covered in Thomas McNamee's book, but it was interesting to hear about it from Alice directly. In fact, one of the most interesting parts of the book was not so much the material, but the way it was written. The authorial voice comes across exactly as if you sat with Alice for an afternoon and she told you her life story. Alice is famously a very passionate and opinionated person, idealistic, and a consummate snob - all of those qualities come through loud and clear in her writing. This isn't a negative comment on the book, it just speaks to the authenticity of the author. It may be off-putting to some readers, but I didn't mind it.What really detracted from my enjoyment of COMING TO MY SENSES were its confusing organizational structure and its surface-level writing. I felt as though this book could have benefited greatly from a thesis statement. What exactly was the author trying to convey - her life story? The story of her restaurant's inception? Everything felt a bit muddled. In fact, the amount of odd details that the author shares, such as about the Berkeley clothing store owner who dressed Alice in the early days of Chez Panisse and then went on to become a Hollywood costume designer, were confusing and extraneous. It was sometimes difficult to surmise exactly the point that the author was trying to make.The book is marketed as a memoir, which I found to be incredibly misleading. When I sit down with a memoir, I expect to be drawn into certain key moments from the author's life, and follow her through her reflections on those moments, analyzing and making deep meaning of them and how they have impacted her. What you find on the pages of COMING TO MY SENSES is an autobiography, and a surface-level one at that. There are brief moments where Alice goes into detail and analysis about things that are happening, but the vast majority of the book is "telling" the reader about her life rather than "showing"...almost a play-by-play but without any commentary. For someone who is so sophisticated about so many things, I was truly disappointed by the simplistic way in which she wrote this book. For those who are interested in Alice Waters and her food awakening, there is a lot to like about her most recent book. You'll learn about her early years in New Jersey and Michigan, her involvement in campus protests and political activism in the San Francisco area, and her formative experiences with food and cooking. Her personality comes through clearly in her authorial voice, but there is a disconnect between that voice and the actual content of the book. To find a way to meld that voice and personality with some more focused, detailed, and in-depth reflections would be to make COMING TO MY SENSES a much more powerful and engaging story.
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  • Brandon Gaukel
    January 1, 1970
    I love this woman. This book is exactly what I want to read this week, I started it on a flight from Hawaii and just finished two days later. I swear by her cookbooks, she has changed my life and I got to meet her this year on the flight back from New York City. A GEM.Way to go Alice waters, small groups change the world always.
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  • Gail
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know why I even requested this book from the library. Generally, I'm interested in people who become chefs and what brought them to that vocation. Years ago, I read many books on fascinating chefs that were well written. This book is not one of them. Alice Waters should just stick to cooking and forget about penning a memoir. I could only get through half before I finally gave up. I found the writing to be juvenile, boring, with tons of name-dropping. It seemed very stilted to me. I coul I don't know why I even requested this book from the library. Generally, I'm interested in people who become chefs and what brought them to that vocation. Years ago, I read many books on fascinating chefs that were well written. This book is not one of them. Alice Waters should just stick to cooking and forget about penning a memoir. I could only get through half before I finally gave up. I found the writing to be juvenile, boring, with tons of name-dropping. It seemed very stilted to me. I couldn't care less about what she did, who her friends were, the people she met along the way, etc. This is definitely not a good piece of literature.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Very fascinating but it takes place from her birth to Chez Panisse opening in 1971 (some mentions take place past this time). But it doesn't cover the most interesting parts of her life: running a restaurant for 45 years, her marriage, her daughter, Edible Schoolyard. I was disappointed as the last disc came to a close and this was all glossed over. Maybe one day there will be a part 2.
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  • Aria
    January 1, 1970
    ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- Sadly, I didn't get through the book. I did my best for 3 or 4 days, and finally conceded that I just wasn't going to make it. I'm at somewhat of a loss as to explain why, though. I kept finding myself growing tired, or catching myself dazed out. I know I was not at all a fan of the way the timelines would jump from her youth to more recent events. It seemed to prevent any coherent tale from forming. I thought I would like th ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- Sadly, I didn't get through the book. I did my best for 3 or 4 days, and finally conceded that I just wasn't going to make it. I'm at somewhat of a loss as to explain why, though. I kept finding myself growing tired, or catching myself dazed out. I know I was not at all a fan of the way the timelines would jump from her youth to more recent events. It seemed to prevent any coherent tale from forming. I thought I would like this book, as I had expected that I'd relate to the author. I'm not sure why I didn't. I think nothing ever became "real," as I was reading. The story was never made to be present in my mind; I just wasn't drawn in. I don't even know how to make recommendations for how to fix it. It seems like she had a nice family, and some of the bits related about her youth seemed like they had potential to be interesting if.............something. I don't know. There was no life to what I was able to push myself through. I'm honestly surprised this came off as it did, blander than boiled chicken between white bread. I can't recommend it as is. Perhaps a complete re-write by someone that could inject some flavor into it would salvage the project. Surely there's a story in there worth the paper, if it could be brought to life. I think there must be, but unfortunately it didn't appear in this version. As I couldn't finish the sucker, I can't say that I liked it, or that it was even okay. It wasn't. I didn't hate it. I had literally no response to it whatsoever...like a flat-line reading experience. I just had to call it and move on, and that's not the sign of good writing, so I'm pretty much left with no other option but a 1 star response. I hate that it's this way, but anything else would be dishonest, so, sadly, here we are. I just want to say once more how surprised I am that this book didn't work. It sounded like it would be so enjoyable. I guess these things are going to happen sometimes. *sigh*
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    I realllyyyyy wanted this book to be good, because Alice is one of the most import Bay Area icons. The book left me constantly wanting to know more. She glosses over key moments in her life and doesn't really give herself enough credit for what she did in the Bay. It could have used a strong editor or ghost writer.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    loved! Book ends at the opening of her cafe Chez Panisse. Participated in Free Speech Movement, Berkeley while she tried to make her cafe “perfect”. Lots of picture, very enjoyable.
  • Rebecca Wilkins
    January 1, 1970
    Well it starts with the pitiful photo on the front and doesn't progress much beyond that. Alice is a remarkable woman especially if you watch the PBS special on American Masters but I didn't get it from the book. She skips around and does tell all in regard to drugs and sex but it is all her early life that could have been covered in a couple chapters. There is nothing about her life after the restaurant got successful, her daughter and the edible school yard. These latter things I would have be Well it starts with the pitiful photo on the front and doesn't progress much beyond that. Alice is a remarkable woman especially if you watch the PBS special on American Masters but I didn't get it from the book. She skips around and does tell all in regard to drugs and sex but it is all her early life that could have been covered in a couple chapters. There is nothing about her life after the restaurant got successful, her daughter and the edible school yard. These latter things I would have been more interested to read about than childhood. She also couldn't remember things at several points and that is either saying more about her age or her intellect. I have been to her restaurant twice, although only the cafe as the cost and not being able to choose what you eat prohibited the dinners downstairs. She influenced a lot of people and I like the concept of the edible school yard. I would have liked to read more about that. I can understand trying to protect her daughter by not covering those years and yet that also might have been interesting how she juggled motherhood and her by then successful career. I have been reading Charles Shere's blog "Eating Every Day" for several years. He is well into his 80's and whenever they are in Berkeley they eat at Chez Panisse. Now I realize they were/are original owners. I knew his "cook" had been a pastry chef there but didn't quite realize about the ownership. Alice probably should have let someone write a biography rather than trying to do it herself. She let others be the cook right from the start.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    I love Alice Waters and was extremely excited about this book, enough so that I grabbed an ARC months before it came out. And then...it took me forever to finish it. Unfortunately, much of the book was disappointing. The beginning was slow and mostly involved her family and upbringing. The writing felt juvenile and disjointed, and, sorry to say, boring. It finally picked up when she got to Berkeley and began talking more about food which is what I wanted to hear about in the first place. There w I love Alice Waters and was extremely excited about this book, enough so that I grabbed an ARC months before it came out. And then...it took me forever to finish it. Unfortunately, much of the book was disappointing. The beginning was slow and mostly involved her family and upbringing. The writing felt juvenile and disjointed, and, sorry to say, boring. It finally picked up when she got to Berkeley and began talking more about food which is what I wanted to hear about in the first place. There was a general timeline but still little vignettes were included that threw that off and felt unnecessary or misplaced or just plain odd. I did learn more about Alice, her passion for food, her inspiration and style, some of the stories were amusing, and it did evoke some lovely memories of Berkeley and remind me of why I enjoy seasonal, farm-fresh, local foods, so all was not lost.
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  • Lianne
    January 1, 1970
    My book club has chosen this title for our June meeting. We plan to visit Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant Alice Waters founded in Berkeley in 1971. This memoir provides the back story of how Chez Panisse came to be. A young woman from New Jersey went to France on a year abroad, became a Francophile, and wanted to recreate the flavors she experienced as an impressionable student. She returned to the States, and went to UC Berkeley in the early 1960's, just as the Beat movement was waning, the My book club has chosen this title for our June meeting. We plan to visit Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant Alice Waters founded in Berkeley in 1971. This memoir provides the back story of how Chez Panisse came to be. A young woman from New Jersey went to France on a year abroad, became a Francophile, and wanted to recreate the flavors she experienced as an impressionable student. She returned to the States, and went to UC Berkeley in the early 1960's, just as the Beat movement was waning, the Free Speech Movement was launched, and various students, artists, musicians and political personalities provided a rich atmosphere of incubation and support for her idea. As I read her account of putting her dream into practice in fits and starts, I often felt impatient with her self absorption. But by the end I came to see that it is that it is this kind of obsessive focus on a vision or idea that is needed to make a dream real. Alice Waters wanted to make a restaurant where she could entertain her friends. She succeeded not only in that goal, but in influencing American cuisine and helping to build a community for sustainable local food that became renowned beyond the borders of the United States. She is one of three iconic Californian women, who loved the foods of France, and honored that legacy by bringing them home and adapting them to America. They include: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Alice Waters. And in June I look forward to tasting what Chez Panisse will offer as the prix fixe menu of the day.
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  • Kathy Cowie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI decided to listen to this book because it is read by Alice Waters. While she cannot really compare to the many wonderful, professionally-trained actors who read audiobooks, I still enjoyed hearing the story from her. She is in her 70s now, I think, and there is something mind-blowing about hearing someone that age talk about how she payed for the building that is now Chez Panisse with the help of parents, friends, and some "un-named dope dealers." How she came to be such a culinary le 3.5 starsI decided to listen to this book because it is read by Alice Waters. While she cannot really compare to the many wonderful, professionally-trained actors who read audiobooks, I still enjoyed hearing the story from her. She is in her 70s now, I think, and there is something mind-blowing about hearing someone that age talk about how she payed for the building that is now Chez Panisse with the help of parents, friends, and some "un-named dope dealers." How she came to be such a culinary legend is a truly roundabout and fascinating story, and you should listen to it just to hear the names of all the people who dropped by before they were famous. Also, in perhaps the biggest understatement of the book, she admits turning down a dinner with her friend John Kott while she was living in London - he was in town to interview John Lennon (in 1967 or so), and she was too overwhelmed by the thought to join them for dinner. She admits, "in hindsight, that was probably a mistake." Her love of food is contagious, and her rapture about garlic and fresh-picked lettuce made my mouth water — has your mouth ever watered for the taste of lettuce? That's impressive. Her kitchen is a legendary rite of passage for some of the biggest names in the Slow Food movement. If you are any kind of cook or foodie, you will love this story.
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  • Mina-Louise
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this book, and don't understand the harsh reviews. To me this was a wonderful life story, she has really packed a lot of living into her life. From this I learned about ingredients and food and cooking- passion. And about men, and sex and love, and most importantly knowing your own value whether that is not being sad when someone doesn't want you, whether that's a job you don't fit in with, or a man that doesn't see your value. I'm sure she has cried over plenty of things in her l I really loved this book, and don't understand the harsh reviews. To me this was a wonderful life story, she has really packed a lot of living into her life. From this I learned about ingredients and food and cooking- passion. And about men, and sex and love, and most importantly knowing your own value whether that is not being sad when someone doesn't want you, whether that's a job you don't fit in with, or a man that doesn't see your value. I'm sure she has cried over plenty of things in her life, including men. But to me reading this book she came across as very resilient, and as someone with a strong sense of self. As someone who would never dilute herself for anyone. She would learn from people, and grow and absorb- but end up more secure and a fuller person for it. Not minimising herself. A very valuable book to me at least.
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  • Scottsdale Public Library
    January 1, 1970
    You may be familiar with the name Alice Waters or her restaurant, Chez Panisse, or even heard references to the Edible Schoolyard Project here and there. Now comes the story of Waters: her various career paths, travels, relationships, etc., all leading to her life's major passion project – a restaurant with a nouveau idea at the time of a fixed daily menu option (influenced by her travels in France). Local ingredients, a place for people of the "counterculture" to gather, eat, debate, and just r You may be familiar with the name Alice Waters or her restaurant, Chez Panisse, or even heard references to the Edible Schoolyard Project here and there. Now comes the story of Waters: her various career paths, travels, relationships, etc., all leading to her life's major passion project – a restaurant with a nouveau idea at the time of a fixed daily menu option (influenced by her travels in France). Local ingredients, a place for people of the "counterculture" to gather, eat, debate, and just really connect with food. I didn't know much about Waters before reading this, but came to discover what a life she's lead, including the colorful characters she's known. And it's now on my life's bucket list to travel to Berkeley and eat at Chez Panisse. Who's in?! - Sara Z.
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  • Karen Whitehead
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating memoir by a woman who has been at the forefront of eating local for over forty years. She opened her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in 1971 with no experience other than cooking for friends. She never trained as a chef but she learned to appreciate good food during a formative year in France. She was steeped in the counterculture in Berkeley and her memoir is filled with well known names from those turbulent times. Yet she comes across as likeable and charming, free spirited but practic A fascinating memoir by a woman who has been at the forefront of eating local for over forty years. She opened her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in 1971 with no experience other than cooking for friends. She never trained as a chef but she learned to appreciate good food during a formative year in France. She was steeped in the counterculture in Berkeley and her memoir is filled with well known names from those turbulent times. Yet she comes across as likeable and charming, free spirited but practical, a lover of beauty and ambience, and that most of all, to live well we must eat well. Enjoyed this from start to finish.
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  • Glenda
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a goodreads giveaway.Before reading Alice Waters' memoir, I will honestly say I knew very little about this acclaimed restaurateur other than Chez Panisse was ground-breaking and she has been a strong believer of farm-to-table long before it was chic. I loved reading about her adventures in Paris, and how her chance meetings with various artistes and love of fresh French food led her to taking the plunge to opening a restaurant in a very difficult environment. At times sh I received this book as a goodreads giveaway.Before reading Alice Waters' memoir, I will honestly say I knew very little about this acclaimed restaurateur other than Chez Panisse was ground-breaking and she has been a strong believer of farm-to-table long before it was chic. I loved reading about her adventures in Paris, and how her chance meetings with various artistes and love of fresh French food led her to taking the plunge to opening a restaurant in a very difficult environment. At times she was repetitive and certain name drops were completely unnecessary, but overall an entertaining read.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Book club strikes again! I've never been a foodie nor have I ever heard of Chez Panisse (apparently I missed that revolution -the only Alice's restaurant of legend I'm familiar with is Arlo Guthrie's) so, to put it plainly, I was completely uninterested and uninformed going into this. Further, from the complete lack of introduction, I think the author and the publisher assumed every one of us reading this book was aware of the illustrious history of the restaurant. Well, let me be the first to s Book club strikes again! I've never been a foodie nor have I ever heard of Chez Panisse (apparently I missed that revolution -the only Alice's restaurant of legend I'm familiar with is Arlo Guthrie's) so, to put it plainly, I was completely uninterested and uninformed going into this. Further, from the complete lack of introduction, I think the author and the publisher assumed every one of us reading this book was aware of the illustrious history of the restaurant. Well, let me be the first to say, I wish I'd read the Wikipedia entry first.Fortunately, I had primed myself (accidentally) by starting an even worse, even more scattered biography (I am not Spock) a few days prior. Not much else could make a slog through the middle-class upbringing of a (to me) random personage of completely bland, but still rather privileged upbringing, bearable. I'm sure I have much to thank for Alice's success (I love a good, bitter salad but I'm 1000% sure that's due to my friend Debbie [maybe Debbie was influenced by Alice Waters, for all I know] not Alice), but still her whole existence seems too mundane to warrant a 300-page book club read. And while I do appreciate Alice's positive attitude (nary a negative word was uttered against anybody), by the end of the book I felt like I was at a funeral where the deceased was well on the way to being canonized. In other words, zzzzzzzzzzzz. Wish I'd still been awake to appreciate the details and excitement (hers, not mine) of the start of such a legendary (to many people who are not me) business.3 stars - one whole extra star for being a fast read
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  • Mikedariano
    January 1, 1970
    I grabbed this because Michael Pollan blurbed the back. Wow Waters is interesting. Sometimes it feels like people become outsized participants of history because they get swept up. It's like a wave the rises and some person, it could be anyone, that's somewhere at sometime becomes larger than life. That's kinda Waters. This book is a collection (a recollection?) of stories from her life. Rather than a singled mindedness to change the world Waters just wanted to eat well, speak freely, and have f I grabbed this because Michael Pollan blurbed the back. Wow Waters is interesting. Sometimes it feels like people become outsized participants of history because they get swept up. It's like a wave the rises and some person, it could be anyone, that's somewhere at sometime becomes larger than life. That's kinda Waters. This book is a collection (a recollection?) of stories from her life. Rather than a singled mindedness to change the world Waters just wanted to eat well, speak freely, and have friends.
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book but towards the end I feel like the narrative lost steam and became repetitive. I enjoyed the beginning and middle where we learn about Alice’s childhood. Learning about her self discovery in college and her love of French food drew me in. This book also made me appreciate how different things are for women these days. There is still sexism but Alice opened a restaurant during a time when female business owners were an anomaly. Alice definitely communicates a passion for food I enjoyed this book but towards the end I feel like the narrative lost steam and became repetitive. I enjoyed the beginning and middle where we learn about Alice’s childhood. Learning about her self discovery in college and her love of French food drew me in. This book also made me appreciate how different things are for women these days. There is still sexism but Alice opened a restaurant during a time when female business owners were an anomaly. Alice definitely communicates a passion for food as an experience and not just sustenance that is alluring and contagious to the reader. A lot of her recounting of her past relationships and interactions with key players in the counter culture movement seemed almost idealized. Perhaps I’m cynical but she seemed to retain almost a naïveté about how “great it all was.” If you are a lover of a great meal that is accompanied with the perfect wine while discussing art and film, Alice’s book will definitely touch your soul.
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  • Helen Yee
    January 1, 1970
    I've only even been familiar with the reputation of Chez Panisse and the reverent tones by which American food journalists wrote about Alice Waters. I've yet to had the chance to visit her restaurant - I'd love to go one day - so this book was an incredible insight into not just the conception of the restaurant, but the life of Waters up until its opening.Waters was so much more lively and funny and honest and self-deprecating than I thought. It's an offering, I suspect, that's just as heartfelt I've only even been familiar with the reputation of Chez Panisse and the reverent tones by which American food journalists wrote about Alice Waters. I've yet to had the chance to visit her restaurant - I'd love to go one day - so this book was an incredible insight into not just the conception of the restaurant, but the life of Waters up until its opening.Waters was so much more lively and funny and honest and self-deprecating than I thought. It's an offering, I suspect, that's just as heartfelt and consciously uncomplicated as her food.
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  • Hope Sherman
    January 1, 1970
    For anyone who loves food, art and film, loves 60's history and loves travel - especially to France, this will be enjoyable. Having been fortunate enough to have dined at Chez Panisse made this an especially delicious read!
  • Rayme
    January 1, 1970
    Because I love to bake and have always secretly hoped Alice Waters (and Roger Waters) was related to me somehow this book appealed. It covers her childhood up until she opened Chez Panisse in 1971. Not a page turner, but I found it interesting and worth the read.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a lovely book. Waters is a fascinating woman and I loved hearing about her life. The story is not exactly linear but it is a rich and lively one. I want to visit Chez Panisse one day! Also a wonderful addition to my thoughts of the slow food movement.
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  • Cynthia Sillitoe
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not sure how this wound up on my book list (and actually I waited for it) as cooking doesn't interest me. Still, it was an interesting read.
  • KatieSuzanne
    January 1, 1970
    This was great. The audiobook is read by Alice Waters and her voice makes it seem like she's just telling you the story herself in person and not reading a book. The simple stories she tells of her life and all the little experiences that made her who she is, felt like she was explaining the recipe she used to make you a wonderful meal. I don't think it was intentionally written like that, I think it's just how her natural style comes out. Which I loved. I like to think this could have been me i This was great. The audiobook is read by Alice Waters and her voice makes it seem like she's just telling you the story herself in person and not reading a book. The simple stories she tells of her life and all the little experiences that made her who she is, felt like she was explaining the recipe she used to make you a wonderful meal. I don't think it was intentionally written like that, I think it's just how her natural style comes out. Which I loved. I like to think this could have been me in another life.
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  • Daniel Palevski
    January 1, 1970
    Simple and honest, I was very taken with Waters' clear and concise writing style as well as her willingness to be open and revealing. Often she criticizes herself has being naive, but this is the part of her I felt most pulled into.I ate at Chez Panisse when I was in Berkeley about a month ago. I ate at the cafe and wasn't entirely blown away with the experience, but it was definitely a nice meal and a nice place to share a meal with friends. After reading the book, I can look back and say the l Simple and honest, I was very taken with Waters' clear and concise writing style as well as her willingness to be open and revealing. Often she criticizes herself has being naive, but this is the part of her I felt most pulled into.I ate at Chez Panisse when I was in Berkeley about a month ago. I ate at the cafe and wasn't entirely blown away with the experience, but it was definitely a nice meal and a nice place to share a meal with friends. After reading the book, I can look back and say the lighting particularly helped create a cozy ambiance.This book tells her life story and how she became a chef. Ultimately, she became considered one of the founders of new American cooking and the farm-to-table movement, but this book doesn't delve into those labels or classifications. In fact, it's almost as Waters tries to humble herself and avoid those accolades.Instead, she focuses more on herself as a person and how she developed into her worldview. Some of the most interesting parts of the book are where she explains what she's like to see more of in society and the type of life she'd like to lead. Going to college in Berkeley, she became somewhat political, and these statements about our country and politics I thought resonated very well with me and what are country is facing today:Pg. 93 - from the beach to Berkeley "When the dominant culture behaves immorally, the way the United States was about the war, civil rights, and freedom of public expression, you begin to feel betrayed.""Somewhere along the way, in our country's rush to industrialization and consumerism, it began to feel like America had lost its humanity."
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  • Betsy Freeman
    January 1, 1970
    I'm at odds with myself over this book. I was so excited to get it and start reading it and I vacillated between boredom and happiness while making my way through it. The style is less than conversational. I'm not sure what the editor actually added to this book. Way too many details and far too little cognitive flow. I got through half of the book before I started to hit some interesting parts and thought, "Great, here we go! This is the Alice Waters I wanted to hear about," only to be disappoi I'm at odds with myself over this book. I was so excited to get it and start reading it and I vacillated between boredom and happiness while making my way through it. The style is less than conversational. I'm not sure what the editor actually added to this book. Way too many details and far too little cognitive flow. I got through half of the book before I started to hit some interesting parts and thought, "Great, here we go! This is the Alice Waters I wanted to hear about," only to be disappointed. It would have been great to hear more of the prep for the restaurant, her work with schools, raising her daughter, but instead we got lots of detail that seemingly made her happy, but didn't have much to do with telling a story to the reader. I was happy to hear how her family relationships helped build who she became, but the amount of detail and immature telling of far too many stories made this a yawner. And I was so excited to finally get the real scoop on a cooking icon! Maybe next time...
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  • Gina
    January 1, 1970
    I originally came for the food & a memoir of sorts of Alice Waters but, Holy Basil!, I came away completely charmed & impressed by this Francophile woman whose food activism is rooted in simple, seasonal ingredients prepared with utmost care using the most basic & time-tested, tried & true methods. Whether you eat to live or live to eat, we have choices, it can be argued, at every economic level. Sure it can be hard to readily see them due to the blight of bad-for-you banality bo I originally came for the food & a memoir of sorts of Alice Waters but, Holy Basil!, I came away completely charmed & impressed by this Francophile woman whose food activism is rooted in simple, seasonal ingredients prepared with utmost care using the most basic & time-tested, tried & true methods. Whether you eat to live or live to eat, we have choices, it can be argued, at every economic level. Sure it can be hard to readily see them due to the blight of bad-for-you banality bombarding us from fast food chains forever in our field of vision & the perfidy of processed conveniences, but she reminds us we need be mindful, we ought to discriminate, and educate ourselves. Education is always power. Why do you think the Fascists de-value knowledge?I had no idea Waters, who is mild-mannered, measured & soft spoken, was radicalized by Berkeley, and part of the Free Speech movement. She was engaged in campus protests with the likes of activists & agitators Mario Savio and Jerry Rubin, and later, artists & filmmakers like Godard (at one point she married his collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin - a green card marriage, but still! Wow!), Les Blank, Herzog, Coppola, et al. I know I'm gushing & full of run-ons. Just run with 'em. She was - is - a counterculture cultural aesthete thriving on the art & intellectualism found in the Beats who were about creating change, and had been opposed to passive Hippie ideals which were about the freedom to disengage from society (well, pretty much). Disengaging is not a real, definitive way to create change.Waters founded the Edible Schoolyard project in schools around the country where her team teaches children in public schools how to grow their own food to eat, to nourish themselves. It's a back to nature kitchen classroom with a Montessori approach. She had even collaborated with FLOTUS Michelle Obama on planting the first organic White House garden! All to come to this conclusion: Waters' radical ideals & culturally attuned Sensualist sensibilities are part & parcel of who I am, and who I continue to strive to be. She reminds me politics is a part of everything, even food, maybe even especially food. & she teaches that there is value & power in creating change in your own corner of the world. Start small, enjoy big payoffs. She's truly an inspiration.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    What an interesting person Alice Waters is. She is a dreamer and an explorer. Reading her memoir the reader can see how the idea for creating Chez Panisse had marinated within her for many years. She was inspired by travel, friends, family, film, nature and other subtleties of her life she valued and noticed. In the end, she brought her disciplined imagination to create a restaurant that changed the way America thought about food.
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  • Dana DesJardins
    January 1, 1970
    Alice starts planning to open Chez Panisse literally 80% of the way through the book, and the book ends after the first night. I wish the entire book had been like that last chapter, a description of the food, plates, cooks, and candles in her lovely restaurant. She lived in Berkeley during the 1960s and had some remarkable, enviable adventures traveling around Europe in an Austin Mini, but the verve and vision of her restaurants, cookbooks, and school gardens is disappointingly absent here. Thi Alice starts planning to open Chez Panisse literally 80% of the way through the book, and the book ends after the first night. I wish the entire book had been like that last chapter, a description of the food, plates, cooks, and candles in her lovely restaurant. She lived in Berkeley during the 1960s and had some remarkable, enviable adventures traveling around Europe in an Austin Mini, but the verve and vision of her restaurants, cookbooks, and school gardens is disappointingly absent here. This is to Julia Child's My Life in France what Chez Panisse is to Olive Garden restaurants. But I love her so much I had to give it 3 stars anyway.
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  • Ruth Glen
    January 1, 1970
    I usually like this kind of book, but her writing did nothing for me.
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