Lessons from the historic Berkeley Chez Panisse


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Go back in time with us 1971The year that changed the way we eat forever.

educational. Demands. magic. These words appear again and again when you talk to former employees at In BanisIt is arguably the most influential American restaurant in history. Alice Waters opened the Café in Berkeley, California, in August 1971, and made simple food with locally sourced ingredients. Although “farm-to-table” is now very common, it is a cliché, at that time such a restaurant was new, and so was the way it ran: paying farmers a premium for their best produce, changing the menu daily, giving employees off regular wages – and vacation time – encouraging them to trust their intuition.

“The most important thing to me is that we were able to create something larger than the sum of its parts,” said Alice Waters in a recent phone interview. “Everyone brought their talents to create Chez Panisse.”

The cascading effect of this small restaurant was vast. We spoke to a small corner of Chez Panisse’s world about how the restaurant has affected them and the lessons they took with them when they left: how to treat your employees fairly, cook with confidence, resist overthinking your menu, and much more. The chefs, authors, and bakers we spoke to became leaders of the industry in their own right, imparting these values ​​to the next generation.

“They took Chez Panisse’s values ​​and interpreted them in their own creative ways,” Waters said. “And I just love what they made.”

Steve Sullivan

Drawing by Peugeot Kerman

Your employees come first.

“Chez Panisse was created to benefit employees as much as they benefit the company, providing the most satisfactory pay possible, paying people as much as you could, and paying for vacation time and health insurance. When we started Acme Bread, this was not normal for a bakery or restaurant.” , But has been incorporated into our business management concepts. ” –Steve Sullivan, driver and baker at Chez Panisse from 1975 to 1983 and founder Akme bread company In Berkeley

Know where your ingredients are coming from.

“There was such a focus on the source of vegetables in Chez Panisse. All the names of the farms we worked with were on the list, and we made field trips to visit and stay on those farms. It took root in me. So now when I buy mezcal for my beverage store, I think about it.” Where it comes from, who grows it, and what is the story. We call this “bead to glass.”Jessica Moncada, Carrier at Chez Panisse from 2005 to 2010 and co-owner of Rye alkaline In Auckland

Trust your cooking intuition.

“Chez Panisse is not like any other restaurant, even today. Chefs are encouraged to trust their intuition. You can’t read a book about how to cook onions, for example. You only need to do this, feel confident in your own judgment and open to all possibilities. This philosophy extends throughout the kitchen. Even if you are a newer cook and have never had an onion before you can say what you think. Every idea has its value. ” –David Tanes, baker to co-chef on a daily basis from 1981 to 2011, author of a cookbook, and The New York Times Food columnist

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