The veteran and much-honored chef and writer returns with a memoir that shows how bumps, bruises, and even youthful confusion and clumsiness can form the Yellow Brick Road.
Waters—founder and longtime owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Café in Berkeley, California, and the author of numerous other cooking-related titles (My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients that Make Simple Meals Your Own, 2015, etc.)—came of age in the 1960s and lived her youthful years in such a free-spirited way that they seem almost to define, if not caricature, the era: France for a junior year abroad, where she rarely attended classes; numerous sexual relationships with evanescent commitments; some time teaching in a Montessori School, which she realized was not for her; and an almost magical life in Berkeley that has enabled her to meet celebrities in a variety of areas, including music, cinema, cooking, and graphic design. Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971—“chaos” and “mayhem” abounded—but it caught on very quickly and served as a launching pad for even greater success. Waters employs an interesting technique for her asides, divergent thoughts, flashbacks, and ruminations: she puts them in italics. They occur often and deal with such sundry things as a clambake, French bread, cheese, meeting Francis Ford Coppola and President Bill Clinton, and getting hooked on movies—a passion she now ranks right near cooking. The author does an artful job of showing how even the most apparently unrelated experiences helped lead her to her profession. She is also quite frank about her failures; her relationships with lovers, friends, and colleagues; and her pride in remaining a part of the 1960s counterculture that nourished her. She also writes affectionately about her parents and siblings and her colleagues.
An almost charmed restaurant life that exhales the sweet aromas of honesty and self-awareness.