In honor of this month’s 40th anniversary celebrations, both the upstairs café and downstairs dining room at Chez Panisse have gotten some new wallpaper, namely copies of vintage menus from special-event dinners through the years. The restaurant has made a habit of hand-printing these menus, often with beautiful graphic design, since the early days in the 70s, including those for their annual Bastille Day dinners, birthdays of friends of the restaurant, and dinners in honor of famous guests like Julia Child (who celebrated her 90th birthday there in 2002), Bill and Hillary Clinton, and many others. Printmaker Sylvan Brackett (a.k.a. owner of Peko Peko) has been primarily responsible for the menus over the last decade, and prior to him it fell to Patricia Curtan, who once cooked at the restaurant and is largely responsible for the antique, botanical, letterpress aesthetic that has accompanied many of the restaurant’s cookbooks and printed materials.
Curtan, in fact, has a book of her menus for Chez Panisse coming out this very week, and she’ll be doing a book signing at the restaurant this Sunday, August 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. And, of course, 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, is coming out in a couple of weeks.
We should also tell you that the Berkeley Art Museum events — involving a major set of installations and edible gardens by OPENRestaurant honoring the anniversary — on Friday and Saturday, August 26 and 27, are not yet sold out — and the event on the 27th is actually free, but requires a reservation and ticket. (Tickets for the Friday thing, which are $100 and will benefit the Edible Schoolyard, are here.) And throughout the month, every night of the week, Chez Panisse Café is doing special menus inspired by their favorite food writers, chefs, and historic gastronomes. See tonight’s here.