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

Thomas McNamee, Author, R. W. Apple, Foreword by
Thomas McNamee, Author, R. W. Apple, Foreword by . Penguin Press $27.95 (380p) ISBN 978-1-59420-115-8
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Paperback - 380 pages - 978-0-14-311308-9
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-4295-2862-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 400 pages - 978-1-4295-2863-4
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-101-20208-1
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Talk about dish: McNamee's book is a gossipy history of the famed restaurant and a biography of the individual behind its three-decade rise from humble beginnings to international renown. Alice Waters was a young, single American woman with strong, confident sense and vision but little experience in the restaurant business when she moved to Berkeley in the 1960s. She loved food and cooking, and dreamed of opening a restaurant; her passion and enthusiasm eventually produced a location, a crew and a clientele. The book chronicles the following decades with extensive detail from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint, going from stovetop to bedroom, from opening night right up through the restaurant's recent 35th anniversary. Larger-than-life personalities abound, but the primary focus is Waters, whose success occasionally comes across as attributable to accidents and other people as often as design. The author researched restaurant archives and interviewed dozens of willing subjects with Waters's approval, and the result is a mélange of reverential biography with restaurant and food history. Sidebars scattered throughout the text provide additional anecdotes and insight into Waters's favorite dishes. Serious foodies will devour this memoir. B&w photos. (Mar.)

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