Despite having read about Alice Waters for years, I only managed to eat at her famous Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, just once: for lunch in the cafe on May 21,1983, when she may well have no longer been working in the kitchen. (With no reservations, we waited for two hours for a table.) Her career as chef was fairly short-lived, but those of restaurateur, cookbook author, and food activist, are ongoing. Coming to My Senses is about a young person finding her way in a world where sex and politics, and the role of women was a spin of the roulette wheel. Waters takes us up to the opening of her restaurant in 1971, and not much beyond. Readers will want to compare this to Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples and Tender at the Bone. Waters is too modest to belong in the pantheon of great memoir writers--this is more a perfect peach fondly remembered than an elaborate tasting menu-- but her place in the pantheon of great Americans is assured.
The New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America's most influential restaurant.
When Alice Waters opened the doors of her "little French restaurant" in Berkeley, California in 1971 at the age of 27, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape—Alice least of all. Fueled in equal parts by naiveté and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers. In Coming to My Senses Alice retraces the events that led her to 1517 Shattuck Avenue and the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity. Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman's evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.
About the Author
ALICE WATERS is the executive chef, founder, and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkely, California. She founded the Edible Schoolyard and has received the French Legion of Honor, WSJ Magazine Humanitarian Innovator Award, and three James Beard Awards. Alice is Vice President of Slow Food International and the author of thirteen books. Her most recent books are My Pantry, The Art of Simple Food II, 40 Years of Chez Panisse, and In the Green Kitchen. She lives in Berkeley, California.
"Longing for a heart to heart with the woman who changed the way America eats? This is your chance. Alice has written a book so intimate that, although I've known her most of my life, I feel I've finally gotten to know her." —Ruth Reichl
"Waters describes these discoveries with the intense specificity we all give our life-changing first encounters in Coming to My Senses, a partial autobiography that ends on the night in 1971 when she opened Chez Panisse . . . The book is a prequel, the story before the story everybody knows." —Pete Wells, New York Times
"Ms. Waters is the reason restaurants started naming farms on menus and serving mesclun salads and American-made goat cheese." —Kim Severson, New York Times
"One of the architects of California cuisine, Alice Waters reveals her rise to Chez Panisse fame in her latest memoir. Waters has never been shy about telling her story, but this book goes further back than most of her earlier work." —Eater
"You'll get lost in [Waters's] palpable passion, all the while learning about her love for rosé, her genius way to make mayo and that time she turned down a dinner with John Lennon." —Tasting Table
"[Waters] does an artful job of showing how even the most apparently unrelated experiences helped lead her to her profession. She is also quite frank about her failures; her relationships with lovers, friends, and colleagues; and her pride in remaining a part of the 1960s counterculture that nourished her. An almost charmed restaurant life that exhales the sweet aromas of honesty and self-awareness." —Kirkus Reviews
"After reading this mouthwatering tale of Waters' intrepid youth, you'll be hungry for more." —USA Today
"Through Chez Panisse, her decades of writing, advocacy and yes, dreaming, Waters has helped change how Americans eat for the better through the culinary expression of her counterculture convictions." —Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune "Readers will be charmed by Waters’s adoration of exquisitely prepared food. Her anecdotes and her descriptions of friends and customers (many of whom were filmmakers, artists, and prominent thinkers of the time) bring the era and the restaurant to the mind’s eye in vibrant detail." —Publishers Weekly
Notable Press & Accolades:
New York Times bestseller in Hardcover Nonfiction
Publishers Weeklybestseller in Hardcover Nonfiction
Los Angeles Timesbestseller in Hardcover Nonfiction
IndieBoundbestseller in Hardcover Nonfiction
Amazon Best of the Year 2017, Top 100
Amazon Best of the Year 2017, Category Picks, Biography & Memoirs
Amazon Best of the Year 2017, Category Picks, Cookbook, Food, & Wine
Amazon Best of the Year 2017, Holiday Gift Picks, True Stories, Well Told
The Best Books Written About Food in 2017—The Independent
Fall 2017 Most Anticipated Books—Publishers Weekly