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Smithsonian Associates Presents “The Evolution of Alice Waters: How American Cuisine Found Its Way”

October 18, 2017

Smithsonian Associates will host chef, author, food activist and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse restaurant, Alice Waters, Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:45 p.m. in Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In conversation with Joe Yonan, food and dining editor for the Washington Post, Waters will share stories and recipes.

When Waters opened the doors of her “little French restaurant,” Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, Cali., in 1971 at the age of 27, no one anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape—Waters least of all. Fueled 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 her new memoir, Coming to My Senses (Clarkson Potter), Waters retraces the events that led her to Chez Panisse 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 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 philosophy that inspired Chez Panisse, a pioneer in its emphasis on using organically grown, locally sourced food—the predecessor of today’s farm-to-table movement.  

Tickets for the Smithsonian Associates’ presentation are $55 for general admission and $45 for Smithsonian Associates’ members. A copy of Coming to My Senses is included in the ticket price and available for signing. For tickets and information, the public may call (202) 633-3030 or visit

Smithsonian Associates—the largest museum-based education program in the world—produces vibrant educational and cultural programming inspired by the Smithsonian’s research, collections and exhibitions. Each year more than 750 individual programs are presented to spark creativity and excite learning in people of all ages in the Washington, D.C., area and across the country. Smithsonian Associates brings the Smithsonian to life through seminars, performances, lectures, studio arts classes and local and regional study tours, as well as many engaging programs for children, including performances and summer day camps.

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Lauren Lyons
(202) 633-8614

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Alice Waters

chef Alice Waters