Published by Paula Wiseman Books
Summary: Growing up in the Garden State, Alice Waters enjoyed fresh produce from her family’s backyard. In college, a semester abroad introduced her to the wonders of French cuisine, which she tried to duplicate for her friends when she returned home. After graduation, she bought an old house that she fixed up and turned into Chez Panisse, a restaurant that served a single meal each night. The restaurant was a huge success, but Alice struggled to find the fresh ingredients she remembered from her childhood and her trip to France. She traveled through northern California, looking for small farms where food was produced in traditional ways. Using this food in her restaurant helped start the movement toward local food that is popular today. Includes two pages of additional information, including Alice’s work with schools to produce local fresh food; a timeline, and a bibliography. 48 pages; grades K-5.
Pros: This quirky book perfectly captures the spirit of Alice Waters’ restaurant, where the staff would dance late into the night after the diners left and a friend once cooked and ate his shoe after losing a bet. The mouth-watering descriptions of fresh food may even entice kids to eat their vegetables.
Cons: Like Alice, I grew up in Chatham, New Jersey and ate produce from my father’s backyard garden all summer; unlike her, I did not turn out to be a world-class restaurateur or even a particularly good cook.