Articles / Alice Waters, First Lady of Food

Alice Waters, First Lady of Food

Published October 26, 2022

Celebrating thirty years of Edible Schoolyard with one of my favorite people

“I think it’s really the place of great sensorial experience to eat exactly in season, and when that’s over, you go to the next thing, and then the next thing, and then you’re connected to nature all of the time.”

So I could say that stupid thing about how this week’s guest needs no introduction, but instead I’ll say that we promised you someone awesome, and we’re delivering: Alice Waters joined us on Food with Mark Bittman.

Alice opened Chez Panisse 50 years ago, roughly, and the restaurant has been, in my estimation, among the five best every year since it’s been founded, because of Alice’s talents, and her ability to recognize other people’s talents — but for other reasons, too. Because if you want to consider not just your eating experience, but the overall importance of a restaurant, Chez Panisse has been the most important restaurant in the United States over the last 50 years.

Alice’s attitude toward cooking, toward serving, toward sourcing — especially dealing with farmers — has been exemplary. But she didn’t stop with Chez Panisse. Alice, as you all know, created Edible Schoolyard, and that is an important thing in and of itself; with that, she argues that food should be at the center of every education — an “edible education,” where kids do their learning around subjects like food, that you can do subjects like math, and sociology, and history, and everything else, through food, and that that is a good way to learn. That’s a solid argument, but Alice didn’t stop there, either.

She is now arguing, correctly, that food is about democracy, and that equal access to food is more important than equal access to anything else. So if you want a fair and just society, you have to talk about equal access to food, and Alice is doing that.

We cover a lot of this, so I’ll stop here. But here you have a person who founded a terrific eating restaurant with great principles, took those principles and applied them to a second project that was pioneering — Edible Schoolyard — and now is working on even more. Alice is one of my favorite people from a personal perspective, someone I love and adore, and has never let me down — and I mean that seriously — and is someone we all should admire, an American hero.

Please listen and subscribe, and please review on Apple, as it really helps. The recipe featured in today’s episode — Alice’s Colorful Carrots with Butter and Honey — is below.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Colorful Carrots with Butter and Honey


Carrots (2 to 4 per person)


1. Cut off the greens of the carrots, leaving a half inch of stem.

2. Peel the carrots lightly, and wash them well.

3. Cut the large ones in half lengthwise, but leave small ones whole.

4. Put a pan with 1/2 inch of water in it over high heat.

5. Add the carrots, a small knob of butter per person, and salt to taste.

6. Cover the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender.

7. Remove the lid, lower the heat, add a small spoonful of honey, and cook until the water is mostly gone and the carrots are gilded with a shiny glaze of butter and honey.

8. Remove from the pan and serve right away.

9. If you like, strew some chopped chervil or dill on the top.

— Recipe from The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden, by Alice Waters