Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Mortgaging the House for My Dream

Mortgaging the House for My Dream

More From Alice

In this video

Tagged as

Waters recalls her parents' support when her life took an unexpected turn towards opening her restaurant.

Alice's Biography

Charity of Choice: The Edible Schoolyard Project
Non-edible Heroes: Marcel Pagnol, Maria Montessori, Peter Sellers
Earliest Smell Memory: Applesauce cooking.
Prized Produce: As a child, she won costume contest for her “Queen of the Garden” outfit comprised of an asparagus skirt, lettuce leaf top, and peppers around her wrists.

Alice Waters is a chef, author, activist and pioneer at the forefront of the locally grown, organic food movement. Hailed as “the mother of American cooking,” she opened her visionary restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, in 1971. Her commitment to finding the highest-quality, seasonal ingredients and using a simple, improvisational approach sparked a tidal wave in American cuisine. For the last four decades, the restaurant has consistently ranked among the “World's 50 Best Restaurants” and has cultivated a community of local farmers, ranchers, and other suppliers who share Waters’s vision of delectable, sustainable agriculture.
Even as a child growing up in Chatham, New Jersey, Waters had a keen sense of taste. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, with a degree in French Cultural Studies in 1967. During her time at Berkeley, she studied abroad in Paris, where she shopped at daily produce markets and frequented neighborhood restaurants - an experience she found revelatory. “I feel in love with the taste of the dishes I had. But it was really way more than that,” she recalls. “I just fell in love with the whole way of life - that took food and connected you to nature, the time, the moment in time.” The experience and subsequent travels inspired her to open Chez Panisse back in Berkeley.
 
Waters has authored eight books on food and cooking, including Chez Panisse Cooking and The Art of Simple Food. She founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996, and created the Edible Schoolyard program, which brings organic gardens, kitchen classrooms, and sustainable food curriculum to several public schools across the country. Waters is also a champion on national level for school lunch reform and universal access to healthy, organic foods.
 
In 1992, she became the first woman named “Best Chef in America” by the James Beard Foundation, and in 1997, received the organization’s Humanitarian Award. Her other numerous honors include being co-recipient, with Kofi Annan, of the Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School in 2008, receiving Bon Appetit magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, and being named to the French Legion of Honor in 2009.

Related Videos

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
First African-American Woman in Space

Growing up in the southside of Chicago, Mae Jemison was always curious about space. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a medical doctor and worked in Liberia and...

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Media Mogul & Philanthropist

Oprah began her broadcasting career at WVOL radio in Nashville while still in high school. At the age of 19, she became the youngest person and the first African-American woman to...

Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine MacKinnon
Pioneering Legal Scholar

Catharine MacKinnon is a legal scholar who pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment. As an undergraduate at Smith College, MacKinnon was first introduced to the constitution...

Phyllis Schlafly
Phyllis Schlafly
Conservative Activist

Phyllis Schlafly was 28 years old when she ran a 1952 long-shot Congressional campaign in Illinois’ 24th district. Though she failed to win the seat, the effort announced her...