“I knew David when he opened his restaurant, Bouley, in 1987,” said Alice Waters. “He had crates full of apples stacked in the entrance, and I have used that idea around the world.” Waters is, to be clear, an endlessly influential chef in her own right, both in the context of her restaurant, Chez Panisse, and her nonprofit, the Edible Schoolyard Project, which allows public-school kids around the country to work in and understand the gardens that make their food. The two have orbited each other for decades and met again this year. Bouley decided to honor Waters, and the 20th anniversary of her Schoolyard Project, in a way they could mutually appreciate: by cooking a meal.
The menu would span 11 courses, featuring one of Bouley’s signature dishes, the Forager’s Treasure of Wild Mushrooms, and using many of his so-called Building Blocks. Bouley charted out the courses for the dinner (held at his event space, Bouley Botanical), and Waters stopped in ahead of the meal to check in on the preparations. At times, Waters would flip through a copy of her cookbook. (“Hard to remember recipes when you write a book several years before it is published,” she said.) And later, Bouley would make a decision that only a seasoned chef would have the courage to make: to lob three courses from the 11-course menu in order to get his guests home before midnight. It’s not obvious they would have minded.
*This article appears in the November 9, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.