Though they had a somewhat apocryphal falling out many years back, Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower were reunited this past Friday after he responded to Alice’s call and hopped a plane from his home in Mexico to help celebrate Chez Panisse’s 40th birthday. The pair may have squabbled in the past over who deserves credit for creating the restaurant, but they set all that aside and shared a table there Friday night, at a dinner with a small group of friends cooked by current chef Jean-Pierre Moullé. The grand opening ceremonies of the weekend took place earlier that evening at the Berkeley Art Museum, where a pen of adorable lambs at the museum entrance, open sacks of ripe cherry tomatoes, and mountains of fresh breakfast radishes paid tribute to the restaurant’s long-standing relationships with California’s organic farmers.
Governor Jerry Brown said a few words (“I believe in free speech,” he said, pointing to the Free Speech/Free Lunch banners hanging in the museum for the event. “But this free lunch business is going to be harder to pull off.”) and a representative from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery presented Alice with her portrait, a beatific photograph by artist Dave Woody taken in front of a mulberry tree in Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard — it was the first time the institution had ever done a portrait unveiling outside Washington, and Alice blushed and choked up a little, and said, “I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” as if she didn’t expect anyone to show up to the party.
Also, there was a super sixties parade of Berkeley students and former employees of the restaurant, wearing beekeeping gear, gardening apparel, and various kooky headdresses of flora and fauna. And though there were no Jake Gyllenhaal sightings that evening, we hear he was in town and escorting Alice through various parts of the event-filled weekend.
On Saturday, the museum opened to the public with more interactive installations inspired by Chez Panisse from the group OPENrestaurant, including edible gardens and a “living kitchen.” And that evening, a spontaneous street party broke out in front of the restaurant, to which the police showed up — just like in the sixties! Foodies with means attended one of a bunch of benefit dinners for the Edible Schoolyard, including a $1,500-a-head pig roast in Michael Pollan’s backyard. (Chef Samin Nosrat posted some teaser photos of that event here.) We, sadly, did not have the means.
But please enjoy our slideshow from Friday…
Earlier: What You Missed at the Edible Schoolyard Boxed-Lunch Fête in Union Square
Alice Waters, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Jenna Bush Walk Into a Garden …
Chez Panisse Wallpapers the Restaurant With Vintage Menus