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Alice Waters: 40 Years Of Sustainable Food

Waters founded her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, long before "organic" or "locally grown" entered the vernacular. In 40 Years at Chez Panisse, Waters looks back on the sustainable for movement and the momentum it has built in recent years.

43:39

Other segments from the episode on August 22, 2011

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 22, 2011: Interview with Alice Waters; Review of Brandford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo's album "Mirth and Melancholy."

Transcript

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Alice Waters: 40 Years Of Sustainable Food

TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I want to thank Dave Davies for
hosting while I was on vacation last week. It was good to get away, and
it's good to be back.

My guest today is Alice Waters. She founded the now-famous restaurant
Chez Panisse in Berkeley, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this
week. The ideas she developed at her restaurant have influenced how many
Americans think about food. She thinks great food uses great ingredient ts
that come from the local farmers, fishermen and ranchers who take the
best care of the food they're growing and the animals they're raising.
They're as celebrated at her restaurant as the chefs who prepare the
food.

As part of her Edible Schoolyard project, Waters helped create gardens
at or nearby schools so that students in cities can see vegetables grow
and eat them for lunch. She created a model sustainable foods menu at
Yale University dining halls using locally grown ingredients.

She started advocating for a White House vegetable garden back in the
'90s - mission accomplished. Waters and friends have put together a new
anniversary book called "40 Years of Chez Panisse."

Alice Waters, welcome to FRESH AIR, and happy anniversary. So before we
talk a little bit more about, you know, your menus and the restaurant
and your personal food biography, how would you describe your approach
to preparing food? Like if you had to describe it to somebody who's
never heard of you...

Ms. ALICE WATERS (Founder, Chez Panisse; Author, "40 Years of Chez
Panisse"): I guess I begin with the idea of touching and tasting and
some kind of connection with the senses. I always ask people who want to
become cooks at Chez Panisse, you know, what do they like to cook for
themselves. What do they find in the market? And I'm very interested in
creating a great smell in the kitchen, a great smell in the restaurant,
and I make an effort to present food very simply and have it taste of
what it is.

GROSS: Have it taste of what it is, and what it is - your emphasis is on
very fresh, locally grown or locally raised ingredients.

Ms. WATERS: It is, but my real emphasis is on the farmers who are taking
care of the land, the farmers who are really thinking about our
nourishment. And so I'm looking for them, and I know very well that in
order to cook something that is really flavorful that you need to have
ingredients that are grown in a place where they really thrive, and so
you're looking to the farmer to plant the right seeds in the right place
and care for them and know when to pick them. That's kind of 85 percent
of cooking, is about finding those ingredients, and then it's so easy
after that. You just let them be themselves.

GROSS: Your restaurant, Chez Panisse, is one of the most famous
restaurants in America. Did you go to restaurants as a kid? And if so,
like, what kind of restaurants did your parents take you to?

Ms. WATERS: I never went to restaurants as a kid. We ate at home, and I
can remember, I think, the three restaurant experiences of my childhood.
And they were at a local...

GROSS: Three?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WATERS: Just about three. It's - all I wanted to do on my birthday
was to go to the Automat in New York because I could choose for myself
from those little - put my money in and get out my lemon meringue pie.
But that was - I don't know if you consider that a real restaurant.

But the kind of restaurant that I think you're talking about I really
didn't experience very often. The William Pitt in Chatham, New Jersey, I
think that was it.

GROSS: Is this because your parents didn't have the money to eat out, or
they didn't have the interest in eating out?

Ms. WATERS: They didn't have the money to eat out. And we mostly ate
from their garden, and that's the way it was. My mom wasn't a very good
cook. So I didn't look forward to dinners, but we all had to be home and
sitting at the table before my dad - just when my dad arrives.

GROSS: So did you grow up with things like canned carrots and peas and
canned creamed corn?

Ms. WATERS: I believe so, lots of frozen things, too, lots of frozen
things.

GROSS: TV dinners?

Ms. WATERS: Later on, TV dinners, yes, we had those, but I never was
particularly interested in those. I don't know why. They seemed full of
sauce, and I liked my food very plain. I was a very picky eater. And,
you know, I liked corn and tomatoes in the summer, but when I look back,
I think it's because they really were coming right there from the
garden.

GROSS: So fresh corn and tomatoes are among the foods you liked best.
Was there a food that would nearly bring you to tears because you hated
it so much, it was so boring, so tasteless, and this is going to be like
a flavorless, joyless meal?

Ms. WATERS: Well, my mother made a lot of things because she thought
they'd be healthy for us. And so there were some very unfortunate
experiences with whole wheat bread and sort of bananas. And I always,
you know, tried to get rid of that sandwich and eat one of my friends'
lunches.

GROSS: So this was like a banana sandwich on whole wheat bread?

Ms. WATERS: Yes, a banana sandwich on whole wheat bread and a little bit
of peanut butter but not the kind of peanut butter that had a lot of
butter in it. It was just the kind that was very, very dry. And I think
it's kind of put me off bananas for life.

GROSS: So this was like store-bought whole wheat bread?

Ms. WATERS: Yes, Pepperidge Farm. Pepperidge Farm. I remember that. And
I always wanted white bread, but I found a way to eat...

GROSS: Can we get that on the record, Alice Waters says I always wanted
the white bread?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WATERS: But it's very interesting because I have come full-circle,
and I found delicious whole wheat bread made by artisan bakers, cooked
in a wood oven, and I've fallen in love with it.

GROSS: Now, you went to the University of California at Berkeley during
the free speech movement in the mid-'60s. You describe yourself as being
on the periphery of the movement, but the movement had a profound effect
on you. How did the free speech movement relate to your interest in
food?

Ms. WATERS: Well, that's a very good question. I was listening to Mario
Savio speak, and I was really impressed by this big vision he had for
the world and that somehow we could live together in a harmonious whole
and that communities could come together.

And I know that he inserted a lot of language that came from his own
heritage. He was from Sicily. He sat down at the table and had a glass
of wine with every meal. I didn't know that, but I know that somehow
came into his speeches and affected me. I mean, that idea of coming
around the table and solving problems that way, and then of course I
went to France the following year.

GROSS: This was in 1965.

Ms. WATERS: In 1965. And it was really an awakening for me. I felt like
I'd never really eaten before. I had sort of liked certain things, but I
didn't understand how it kind of fit into people's lives in a delicious
way. And when I went there and walked to schools, past the markets and
ate in the little restaurants in Paris, it just - it was like a
revelation. And there was always something very political sort of
happening at the table in terms of conversation.

And it was a whole cultural experience that I had there that really
impressed me, and so when I came home, I felt like, you know, I could
really make this happen in my own life and went about looking for the
food and cooking dinners at my house for my friends.

GROSS: So did you think that delicious, sensual food had to be French
cuisine?

Ms. WATERS: I'm afraid I did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WATERS: I did. I did think about that. I loved the way that the
French ate - you know, they had small courses and always had a salad
with a meal and some cheese. It was - it seemed so well-considered, I
guess I would say. And I just absorbed that, as if by osmosis. And I
just wanted to - I wanted to live like the French.

GROSS: So it seems like your early awakening to food was both, like, a
sensual awakening to the taste of food but also a sense that the table
could be a wonderful place where people got together and talked and
talked about politics, and that sense of conversation about politics at
the table preceded your vision of food as a kind of political statement.

Ms. WATERS: I think that's really - that's really right. I was involved
with this little newspaper project right during that time, right after
I'd gotten back from Paris, and it was called "Alice's Restaurant." It
was for the San Francisco Express Times.

And there were a lot of artists and writers who would sort of be working
on that, and I would be feeding them. And it was a great way for me to
sort of test the waters, if you will, and see how they liked it. And
when they enthusiastic, it just sort of lifted my spirits, and I wanted
them all to come back for dinner the next night.

They loved doing that, and it kind of made it, the whole experience of
working on the - at the paper and the deadlines as something that we did
as a group. It was a very important time.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Alice Waters, and she's
the founder of Chez Panisse, one of the most famous restaurants in
America, which is in Berkeley. And it's famous for having a menu built
around ingredients from locally run, sustainable farms. And Chez Panisse
is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and as part of the celebration,
there's a new book called "40 Years of Chez Panisse," and it's by Alice
Waters and friends. Let's take a short break here, and then we'll talk
some more. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Alice Waters, who is the
founder of the famous American restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley,
California, and Chez Panisse is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and as
part of the celebration, there's a new book called "40 Years of Chez
Panisse: The Power of Gathering," by Alice Waters and friends.

GROSS: When you decided you wanted to open a restaurant, what function
did you want the restaurant to serve in the lives of your customers and
in your own life?

Ms. WATERS: Well, I had this very naive idea that, well, I'd just open
this restaurant, and all my friends would sort of pay for the food that
I was giving them for free and that I could make it into a livelihood
for myself.

GROSS: This is what you used to give them for free when you cooked for
them at home?

Ms. WATERS: Well, and I cooked for them in my own kitchen. So I of
course imagined that I would have to be in the kitchen cooking, and I
couldn't be at the table, and all the chaos of the opening just hadn't
been thought out.

And so I didn't see my friends for a very long time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Well, in fact, I've read, like, you've never even cooked at Chez
Panisse.

Ms. WATERS: Oh, I have. I cooked for seven years at the restaurant.

GROSS: Oh, you did, okay.

Ms. WATERS: Oh yes, oh yes.

GROSS: And you gave that up because?

Ms. WATERS: I gave that up because I was having a child. And I decided
that I would find someone to cook and that I would focus my attention at
home and be in the dining room. So that ended - 1983 I stopped cooking.
I haven't cooked in 28 years at Chez Panisse.

GROSS: Wow, do you miss it?

Ms. WATERS: People think I - well, you know, I really do miss it. I
opened the restaurant because I really like to cook, and I would - you
know, I loved to be in the dining room, too, but I didn't intend to sort
of be out of the kitchen, out of the restaurant and doing a whole other
kind of work.

I just feel like the rhythm of the kitchen and the everyday kind of way
that your life is organized, and you're working on menus, and that -
reading of books and writing down notes is something that was very
relaxing for me.

And now I'm in a kind of different world, and I contribute to the
collaboration of the kitchen, and I'm always sort of working with a
group of colleagues who inspire me, but I really miss being actually in
the solving of that performance, that - working at that effort to really
come up with dishes that are delicious and right.

GROSS: What's a dish you came up with that you're particularly proud of?

Ms. WATERS: I guess really it might be the fruit bowl at the restaurant
right now. I know Michael Pollan has written about it in the book, but
that was my idea that really came from the roots of Chez Panisse.

Lindsey Shere was the first pastry chef, and her - she came from a
family of farmers. And so she would bring fruit back into the
restaurant. And it's always been important, but as of probably 15 years
ago, we started getting extraordinary fruit in the restaurant from many,
many different farms.

And I just thought, you know, sometimes that the fruit was as delicious
as any dessert and many more so. And so I asked the pastry department to
put together a fruit bowl that we have on the menu every single day at
Chez Panisse. And it's something that takes a lot of discernment on the
part of the cooks and choosing just the right moment for that fruit and
connecting with the farmers at the last minute to bring just the most
beautiful taste to the table.

GROSS: Michael Pollan, who's famous for writing about, you know,
corporate farming and its problems and organic farming and the policy
and politics of films - he talks about ordering a bowl of fruit at Chez
Panisse.

And he points out, you know, that the menu give the name of the farmer
and the variety of the fruit, and he says he figured that these peaches
had to be something pretty special to earn a spot on that menu and to
command a price only a dollar or two shy of the desserts like the
profiterole and the galette.

He says: So I ordered the fruit for dessert not quite sure whether a
plain bowl of fruit on a restaurant menu was best interpreted as an
expression of culinary modesty or culinary audacity. Which do you think?

Ms. WATERS: I think it's both, you know, in a way. You just want to
bring people into something that's unintimidating.

GROSS: So at what point did you realize that the ingredients were going
to be a core part of - like finding exactly the right ingredients,
having people who you describe as foragers going to a local farm,
finding the best farmers, finding the best fruits and vegetables and
livestock within those farms and choosing those and bringing those back
to the restaurant, how did you realize that that was going to be central
to your identity as a restaurant?

Ms. WATERS: Well, really when we started, I was never looking for
sustainable farmers or organic food. I was really looking for taste. And
so every day, because we had that one simple, you know, four-course
menu, we had to come up with these ideas. And we had to go out and look
for those ingredients. And I think it might have pushed us more quickly
into the realization that the produce and the - all of the ingredients
that we get really make Chez Panisse what it is.

And it probably took us 10 years of foraging to come to that
realization. And we hired a forager, in fact, who became part of the
staff of the restaurant, whose job it was to go out and to find the
people who were growing or raising animals, everything from fish to eggs
to fruit to vegetables. We were looking for people that really cared
about what they were doing and could provide us with the ingredients for
the restaurant.

In fact, we did write-ups on the different farms. We'd invite them to
come to the restaurant for dinner, and we'd make this arrangement with
them to be a reliable buyer so that they could sort of grow for us and
be assured of an income.

And that's what happened with Bob Cannard up in Sonoma. He's the one
that we buy vegetables from every day.

GROSS: Alice Waters will be back in the second half of the show. She and
some of her friends and colleagues have put together a new book called
"40 Years of Chez Panisse" in celebration of the restaurant's 40th
anniversary. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross, back with Alice Waters, a leader of
the sustainable food movement. She’s helped inspire a generation of
chefs and home cooks to use fresh locally grown organic ingredients. The
farmers and ranchers and fishermen who supply her food at her restaurant
are celebrated as the chefs. Her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley,
California, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week. Waters and
some of her friends and colleagues have put together a new book called
“40 Years of Chez Panisse.”

So I'm wondering, a lot of the farmers who you've bought from over the
years are they like old-fashioned farmers who've had family farms in
their history and they've always had a farming way of life? Or are they
people who had this kind of utopian vision to start a farm and get, you
know, get back to the land and produce like in a sustainable organic
way, people who right from the start shared your kind of vision about
what food and what farming ought to be?

Ms. WATERS: One of the first ranches that we connected to was an old
Italian family called the Dal Portos and I met the parents. And it was
the son and his wife who begin raising the lamb that we have been
getting for nearly 35 years of Chez Panisse. It’s really remarkable. We
encouraged them to raise them at a, to a certain age and they bring them
to us every Easter for about six weeks.

But then again we have people like Bob Cannard, Warren Webber who
started out, he was one of the first farmers, they really believed that
it was important to farm sustainably, they shared the same values, they
were part of the movement of back to the land. And now we have very
young farmers who are involved and it’s so reassuring to be invited to
their farms and to experience a kind of a sort of cultural renaissance
in the country. Because they aren't doing it the way, you know, our
grandparents are doing it. They're inventing a way that they can have a
rich life and they can work together and they can make it an artistic
endeavor. And it means that this is going to really bring a lot of young
people into farming.

GROSS: The downside of what you're talking about is the price. You know,
when you're dealing with like small farmers who are doing sustainable
farming and a more natural approach it costs more. At least it must cost
more because restaurants that serve that tend to...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: ...tend have more expensive menus. Like the price-fix menu at
Chez Panisse in the week that we’re recording, in the week in August
that we’re recording, weekdays it's around $80 for the price-fix
downstairs and weekends $95, and that's for, it's for several courses.
And, you know, for a fine restaurant that might not be very expensive
but for, you know, a typical person wanting to have a meal out $80 or
$95 a person, not counting the wine not counting tip, that's a lot of
money.

Ms. WATERS: It is a lot of money. It is a lot of money. But I think that
we have to understand that we want to pay the farmers the real price for
the food that they produce. And it won't ever be cheap to buy real food.
But it can be affordable. And it's really something that we need to
understand. It's the kind of work that it takes to grow food. We don't
understand that piece of it. And it's what we're trying to do with the
Edible Schoolyard in the public schools.

We're trying to bring children into a new relationship to food where
they have an opportunity to work in a garden. They know what it is to
plant the seeds and pick the weeds and then they're learning about what
it takes to cook the food. But I've always thought of Chez Panisse a
little bit in the place of a school where we’re trying to pass on a sort
of a philosophy of food, if you will, and a set of values. And it's
nothing new. These are the ways that people have been cooking and eating
since the beginning of time, it's just that we've been separated from
this experience through a kind of fast-food indoctrination that's been
going on for the last 50 years. And so, we need to really sort of come
back to our senses and really understand, like most every other country
in the world - at least those that have not been indoctrinated like we
have been - that food is something precious.

GROSS: Sometimes I see like two extremes of food in America. You know,
one extreme being like the supersized portion of like...

Ms. WATERS: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: ...the soda with the high fructose corn syrup and the burger with
the fries and all the calories and the fat, but it's really cheap. And
on the other side this kind of almost rarefied vision of a perfect food
world where everything is like locally grown by wonderful people who've
paid wonderful attention and haven't used pesticides and can get into a
restaurant or for a Whole Foods market, you know, I mean a natural foods
market.

Ms. WATERS: Mm-hmm.

GROSS: And where people can afford the prices that that commands. And
I'm wondering like what’s the middle? Where is the middle ground...

Ms. WATERS: Well, we are...

GROSS: ...where food is both generally affordable and also really like
decent?

Ms. WATERS: Well, I think the place where we have to go is to school
lunch. I think we have to go back to school. And we need to learn how to
really eat with intention, understand the consequences that the choices
that we make every day. And I'm hoping that we can bring all children
into a really positive relationship to food if we begin in kindergarten,
because we have this impression that all food should be fast, cheap and
easy. I mean that's the, that's the set of values that we absorb when we
eat that fast-food. And that it's only for people who are, really can
afford it that can have that real experience of food. But in fact, we
can all have that. But we really need to go back into the classroom and
learn together. And that's what Edible Education is all about.

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Alice Waters and she's the
founder of Chez Panisse, one of the most famous restaurants in America,
which is in Berkeley. And it's famous for having a menu built around
ingredients from locally run sustainable farms. And Chez Panisse is
celebrating its 40th anniversary, and as part of the celebration there's
a new book called “40 Years of Chez Panisse,” and it’s by Alice Waters
and friends.

Let’s take a short break here and then we'll talk some more.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you’re just joining us, my guest is Alice Waters, the founder
of the famous restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley. And it's famous for
getting most of its fruits and vegetables and meat and fish from farmers
who have organic, sustainable approaches to their production. And Chez
Panisse is celebrating its 40th anniversary. As part of the celebration,
there's a new book called “40 Years of Chez Panisse” by Alice Waters and
friends.

Do you ever eat alone? I mean you have a restaurant. You could eat with
many, many people who’d be delighted to be sharing a table with you. But
how often do you eat alone, including breakfast?

Ms. WATERS: I eat alone a lot now. I taste at the restaurant when I'm
there. I eat lunch at the restaurant often. But I sit down and have
breakfast every day. It's a little moment of meditation for me. And very
often at the end of the day, I will make myself a pasta and a salad and
it's a great sort of balance for me. I don't make it very fancy but I
always make it delicious for myself.

GROSS: Which means doing what?

Ms. WATERS: Which means I've either gone to the market and I picked out
some vegetables or fruits that I really like. Or I take something from
the restaurant; I shop at Chez Panisse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WATERS: I know, I'm very spoiled in that way. I can't help myself. I
feel like it's just important that I'm in an ongoing tasting. It's what
happens really at the restaurant. We we’re never satisfied. We
constantly are in a conversation of how we could fine tune, how, what
does this taste like compared to that? It's a very important process.
And so I'm taking food home and I'm thinking about that. And I sometimes
just call up the restaurant right in the middle of my meal and say oh,
well, I think you should add this to it. Or why don't you use those
tomatoes. And it's part of the process of running the restaurant.

GROSS: When I eat alone I tend to read something, a magazine article, a
newspaper depending on the time of day, or I'll have the TV on or both.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: And granted that...

Ms. WATERS: Taste (unintelligible).

GROSS: ...tends to drown out a little bit of a taste of the food but
when I'm eating alone that's probably not a major big deal. It's not
probably going to be like the most delicious food in the world. But like
when you're eating alone do you really like focus in on that food or are
you also like, you know, reading or listening to the radio, watching TV,
listening to music?

Ms. WATERS: Well, I have to say that I watch Turner Classic Movies. And
so sometimes I'm cooking and I'm sort of tasting while I'm cooking, and
in that sense it's a very self-reflective endeavor and then I go and
watch a film.

GROSS: Okay, so mentioned movies.

Ms. WATERS: And movies. Yeah.

GROSS: Movies have been very important to you and in fact Chez Panisse
is named after the character of Panisse in the Marcel Pagnol film
"Fanny." Your daughter Fanny is named after the title character in that
film. The only “Fanny” I've seen is what I assume is the remake of it
from I guess it's the 60s. But the film you're talking is from I think
the 30s, right?

Ms. WATERS: It is. Oh, you will have to see the original films of Marcel
Pagnol.

GROSS: Yeah, what's so wonderful about that film? It obviously cast a
spell over you.

Ms. WATERS: It did. He made a trilogy called “Marius, Fanny, and Cesar.”
And they were made about the life on the waterfront in Marseille back in
the early 30s and black and white films. But there was something about
the sort of joie de vivre of the film that captured a kind of life that
I wanted to live. They sat down in the cafes in the afternoon with their
friends and had a little glass of anisette and there were these kind of
lifelong friendships, just this sense of loyalty, a sense of a
community, of camaraderie, and a lot that seemed to be missing in my own
life. I really wanted to live like that.

And so I really longed for the rhythm of nature. I think that's maybe
what I long for most, is the changing of the seasons. The beauty of
nature is something that is so reassuring and so important. And when we
eat in a seasonal way and when we connect back there I think we have a
respect for what's happening around the world in terms of protecting the
environment and just understanding how sacred it is.

GROSS: One thing I will say, I'd rather eat seasonal food in the winter
in California than during a blizzard in Philadelphia.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WATERS: Now I'm not so sure about that. That's a very important
issue for me is how do we eat in the winter in a very cold climate. I
think we have to prepare ourselves to do that and we have to think about
greenhousing, and we have to think about taking the beautiful fruits of
the summer and preserving them for the winter in a syrup. We have to
find the nuts and dried berries. We have to, you know, eat the fish and
the dried beans.

But we can make a beautiful menu with carrots and turnips that might be
stored for the winter. And there’s all kinds of ways that we eat at Chez
Panisse in the winter. Mind you, we have winter greens. We do have kale
and we have salads all year long. But we never see a tomato at Chez
Panisse until really the beginning of July.

GROSS: Interesting.

Ms. WATERS: Sometimes a few little cherries come in before that. But
basically...

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Ms. WATERS: ...we eat eggplant and corn and all of that just for the
four months in the summer and then it's gone and we go into nuts and
fall fruits.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. In a lot of ways you've created such a kind of
harmonious, beautiful, idealized life that's built around food, about
around making it, about around serving it, around beautiful food and
healthy food. At the same time running a restaurant has to be a very
stressful occupation in so many ways and it never stops. You know, even
if you go on vacation the restaurant is still functioning. So are there
times when the stress threatens to overtake the beautiful idealism of
the life that you've been able to create?

Ms. WATERS: Well, I've thought about this a lot because when I was
cooking I would have - you know, we're open six days a week and I could
usually come up with a menu for three days a week and then I didn't have
any more ideas. And I'd have to sort of force it and then one day of the
week the sous chef needed to cook. And so I thought well, what if we
broke this job into two and we had one chef who works three days and
another one who worked the other three days.

And in that way if they were paid for five and they worked three that
they could restore themselves and inspire themselves to come back the
following week. And so we put that into practice in the cafe and it
really changed the way that the whole team operated. The people that
work in the restaurant at various jobs other than the main chef job have
an opportunity to work at lunchtime or at dinnertime so that they could
have time at home with their family. And then...

GROSS: But you're the founder and owner of the restaurant seven days a
week. So I think what you've done for them sounds really wonderful. But
that doesn't necessarily relieve any of the pressure on you.

Ms. WATERS: But it does for me. Because when they're operating in that
way they take responsibility as if they were the owner of the
restaurant. So we have two chefs that are downstairs at Chez Panisse and
each one works six months. And they're paid for the year but they work
six months. So when they come back in they really do take ownership of
the restaurant. I mean I'm collaborating and giving my opinion when I
eat in the restaurant but they run it as if it's their own and it takes
this huge pressure away from me.

I think it's impossible to have your fingers on every problem and you
have to give away a kind of responsibility. And I hope at the very best
that people who work there really, you know, take that sense of
ownership and really are gratified by that.

GROSS: Alice Waters, thank you so much and congratulations on Chez
Panisse, its 40th anniversary.

Ms. WATERS: Oh, thank you, Terry.

GROSS: That’s quite an accomplishment. Thank you so much.

Ms. WATERS: Thank you.

GROSS: Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse is celebrating its 40th
anniversary this week. She and several friends and colleagues have put
together a new book called “40 Years of Chez Panisse.”

Coming up, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new duo album featuring
saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo.

This is FRESH AIR.
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Branford Marsalis And Joey Calderazzo: A 'Melancholy' Duo

TERRY GROSS, host:

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo played
together in Marsalis’ usually rambunctious jazz quartet. A few years ago
they began playing together as an informal duo, like at celebrity golf
tournaments.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says their new duo album goes some places
you may not anticipate.

(Soundbite of song from the album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”)

KEVIN WHITEHEAD: Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey
Calderazzo's in a lighter moment from their album “Songs of Mirth and
Melancholy.” Overall it's longer on the latter, taking cues from the
brooding romantic music of 19th century Europe. They play one Brahms
song straight, with soprano sax taking the vocal line. And Marsalis says
he borrowed isolated chords or ideas from Wagner, Prokofiev and Schumann
for his tune "The Bard Lachrymose." It sounds like it wants to be a 19th
century art song.

(Soundbite of song, "The Bard Lachrymose”)

WHITEHEAD: Marsalis has dual careers as a jazz and classical
saxophonist, and this setting lets him pull both worlds together. A
saxophone/piano duo can conjure up a recital hall as well as a bar's
backroom. He respects traditions, has never been bashful about
acknowledging forebears like Wayne Shorter and Sonny Rollins in his
solos. As a young man, Branford Marsalis would say a personal approach
emerges in time, and time has proved him right. He plays Shorter's "Face
on the Barroom Floor," Wayneishly, as he puts it. He honors the
composer's vision the same as when he plays Brahms. But Branford still
sounds like himself - he's personalized the influence.

(Soundbite of song, “Face on the Barroom Floor”)

WHITEHEAD: The organic sloshing together of diverse influences defines
us all to some extent - we're partly what we consume. There are moments
when Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo blend their jazz and
classical strains so completely, you're hard-pressed to say what kind of
music they're playing. Marsalis may do impressions sometimes, but he's
multilingual.

(Soundbite of song from album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”)

WHITEHEAD: This music wouldn't work without Joey Calderazzo having his
own jazz and Euro-romantic chops and perspectives to fall back on. The
pianist wrote four of the mood-setting tunes. He and Marsalis have a
close understanding that comes from working together for a decade in the
saxophonist's quartet, but the duo lets them go places that rollicking
band doesn't. Not that they don't crank it up a little, if only for
welcome contrast. Jazz brings the mirth to the mixed program.

(Soundbite of song from album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”)

WHITEHEAD: On soprano saxophone, Branford Marsalis' tone can be robust
and punchy as well as chamber-music tender. That’s a good thing, as he
plays the smaller horn more than tenor on “Songs of Mirth and
Melancholy.” Far as I can tell, few people get worked up these days when
American improvisers go European like these two. Some folks used to fret
that self-conscious Europeanisms would dilute jazz's bluesy potency,
just as some classical folk deplored jazz influences. But there's no
need to get overprotective. Music is hardy; it doesn't bruise easily. No
traditions were harmed in the making of this album.

(Soundbite of song from album, “Songs of Mirth and Melancholy”)

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead reviewed the new album, “Songs of Mirth and
Melancholy.” Kevin is a jazz columnist for eMusic.com and author of the
new book “Why Jazz?: A Concise Guide.”

You can download podcasts of our show at our website, freshair.npr.org.

We have some FRESH AIR news that makes us very happy. Our producer Ann
Marie Baldonado has given birth to a girl named Lena Grace Swedloff.
Congratulations to Ann Marie and her husband Rick. Welcome to the world,
Lena. And Amelia, have fun with your new baby sister.

I'm Terry Gross.
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Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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