Meet the Master
Chef Alice Waters to headline La Jolla luncheon
Posted on January 8, 2018
She is best known as the “mother of California cuisine” and the founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, but when Alice Waters speaks at Meet the Masters on February 26 in the Prado Ballroom in Balboa Park, the topic will be schoolyard gardens.
Alice Waters and students
One of America’s most influential chefs, Waters started a revolution in 1971 when she championed local farms and introduced organic fare at Chez Panisse. In doing so, she helped change the American food landscape. Twenty-five years later, she created the first schoolyard garden that was designed to integrate academics with growing, cooking, and sharing wholesome, delicious food.
The Edible Schoolyard Project, or ESYP, was started by Waters in 1995 when she was quoted in a local newspaper, claiming that the Berkeley school she passed every day looked like no one cared about it. This comment resulted in a partnership with Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, where she worked with the principal, teachers, and kids to build a teaching kitchen and turn blighted land into a productive garden. “Right there, in the middle of every school day, lies time and energy already devoted to the feeding of children,” wrote Waters in her 2008 book, Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea. “We have the power to turn that daily school lunch from an afterthought into a joyous education, a way of caring for our health, our environment, and our community.”
Today, the Berkeley schoolyard project has become an integral part of the community, and an important teaching model. The Edible Schoolyard Network connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum.
Meet the Masters is an annual event sponsored by the Village Garden Club of La Jolla. The club has been supporting Schoolyard Gardens in the San Diego region since 2004. To date, more than 120 schools have received funding from member contributions. Grants enable local schools to enhance and maintain their gardens. The club’s funding brings the wonder of nature to children and helps to grow future environmental stewards.
At the Meet the Masters luncheon, Waters will talk about teaching slow food values and the ideas behind edible education. She will also be signing her new memoir, Coming to My Senses, which offers a candid look at her pre-Chez Panisse life. The event is open to the public, but reservations are required. Proceeds will benefit ESYP and the schoolyard garden supported by the club. vgclj.com Elizabeth Hansen
Alice Waters and students in the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School
Photography courtesy of Amanda Marsalis