Alice Waters’s new memoir, Coming to My Senses, will offer fans a candid look at the chef’s life before she opened her seminal farm-to-table restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. With the release of the book just a few weeks away, Kim Severson catches up with Waters and finds that she’s still got a lot of big dreams and strong opinions about the food world. The whole thing is worth a read if you’re a fan of this culinary iconoclast, but here are seven of the most interesting details:
Alice on acid: Waters only did acid once, but it was the good stuff. A French visitor had procured some tabs from Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the legendary acid guru slash sound technician for the Grateful Dead. “His stuff was what Ken Kesey, the Beatles and Timothy Leary all took,” Waters writes in her book.
Alice on shopping: The chef is still ride-or-die for the greenmarket. Severson notes that Waters “has not set foot in a conventional grocery store for 25 years.”
Alice on feeding the children: Waters believes that every kid in America should get free organic food at school, but she has little faith in the government helping with this plan. “Any way we do this has to be done outside of the government and outside the pyramid,” Waters remarks. “We need to go through the doors that are open, not the doors that are closed.”
Alice on the verge of a revolution: Waters thinks that a full-on food revolution couldn’t take root at the moment, but good things are on the horizon: “We’re like the French underground. We are passing notes to each other. But soon there will be something, an event, and we will come forward together. No one knows how powerful we are. We are vigilantes.”
Alice in the kitchen: Severson sees Waters as an “executive editor” of the food at Chez Panisse; she tastes and offers feedback. In the book, Waters writes: “I hope everybody can see that I have a valuable role as a critic, because I’ve been there since the beginning and I’ve seen the restaurant go through lots of changes.”
Alice on love: Waters is single at 73, but she’s always on the lookout for romance. “Younger men are my Achilles’ heel,” she tells Severson.
Alice on death: Waters wants to spend her golden years in what Severson describes as “a multigenerational commune of her own design.” Alice also apparently wants to be buried in a mushroom spore suit that will help her decompose. It’s grim stuff to think about, but Alice remarks: “I’m an ashes-to-ashes kind of person.”