It is a well-known proverb in food circles, following Claude Lévi-Strauss, that “food is good to think with.” But can a restaurant or a food personality also be good to think with? We think so. The idea for this roundtable was sparked by a lively conversation between members of Gastronomica’s editorial collective as we discussed a recent renaissance of popular writing on Alice Waters around the fiftieth anniversary of Chez Panisse, her famed Berkeley restaurant. Over the last five decades, how did one woman and her beloved restaurant inspire so many food projects, ideas, and critiques? Our conversation covered themes ranging from the Berkeley counterculture and Waters’s early influences, to elitism and classism, to the importance of pleasure in food struggles, to the continued efforts to value the livelihoods of small sustainable farmers and diverse workers in the food system. Our ideas diverged, often sharply, but the one clear consensus...

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