It was reported by Associated Press on March 8, 2013 that Chef Alice Waters had a small fire at her Berkeley, Calif. restaurant called Chez Panisse. The fire blazed through the dining section of the restaurant.
The firefighters were able to handle the blaze and put it out quickly so that the building was not damaged. There is a small area along the restaurant's front porch that has signature woodwork that was burned.
The fire started on the sub-floor of Chez Panisse during the pre-dawn hours according to fire officials. The cause of the fire has not been determined said Deputy Chief Avery Webb of the Berkeley Fire Department.
However Deputy Chief Avery Webb did say that the location and circumstance of the blaze was unusual for a restaurant fire. Since the restaurant was closed no one was hurt.
Deputy Chief Webb said they will look at this case pretty closely, since people are not usually in that area of the building.
The restaurant structure and kitchen had no damage. Chef Waters said “I’m pretty shaky right now, but I’m just glad no one was in the building.” She also said “that’s great relief that in the middle of the night that this happened. It really focuses all your attention on what it is important.”
Firefighters were still securing the scene so there is an official word as to when the restaurant will open.
Deputy Chief Webb said the “Chez Panisse is one of the most famous restaurants in Berkeley, and I am just hoping that the damage wasn’t too extensive”. He also said “that majority of the restaurant is still intact.”
Alice Waters is not only a chef, but a food activist that revolutionized the way people cooked and saw food. Chef Waters believed that fresh is better, and she worked with local farmers to produce food that was fresh and full of nutrition.
Chef Waters relied on them to bring her fresh produce to make meals for her menu at Chez Panisse which was the first establishment she opened in Berkeley, Calif. in 1971 in an old house.
In 1980 she expanded upstairs of the house at the Berkeley location, and made it a restaurant which she calls Chez Panisse Café. The restaurant upstairs offered a more lavish fresh food menu.
Chef Waters did things organically which contained foods full of flavor, pure and full of vitamins. By the mid 80’s Alice’s cuisine became very popular and still is till this day.
Alice Waters is well respected among chefs in Europe especially France, for her quality of freshness and using locally grown foods.
Chef Waters had been approached several times with generous offers, to have a show or package her food but she declined because she didn’t want to not be true to her core values of freshness.
Alice Waters is the prestigious winner of the chef of the year award from the James Beard Foundation.
In 1990 Waters started her Foundation “Edible Schoolyards” this project was initiated to give children another prospective on food.
Chef Waters’ goal was to show the students that they could grow their food and eat what is fresh as opposed to processed foods.
Chef Waters created a lunchtime initiative and curriculum where the students grow their produce and learn kitchen skills. “Waters believed her mission could counter the negative effects of a worsening American diet.”
Gourmet Magazine names Chez Panisse the best restaurant in America in 2001, and from 2002 to2008, it was one of Restaurant Magazine’s 50 best restaurants in the world.