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Marrying high-end fashion with healthy eating, Alice Waters partied in San Francisco last week to celebrate her latest cookbook, “In the Green Kitchen,” proceeds of which go to the Chez Panisse Foundation for use toward edible education.
Perhaps appropriately, the fete was held at Carrots, the specialty shop owned by Melissa and Catie Grimm, whose father and uncle started Grimmway Farms in Bakersfield, Calif. — currently the world’s largest grower of, you guessed it, carrots.
Grimms’ mother, Barbara Grimm-Marshall, is in on agriculture as well and recently donated two acres of family land to Edible Schoolyard for a vegetable garden, kitchen and dining room. “We’re hoping it will be a model for the community,” said Grimm-Marshall. Ten percent of Carrots’ sales that evening were also donated to the Chez Panisse Foundation.
Using her own tales from the kitchen and those of like-minded chefs, Waters’ “Green Kitchen” is a manifesto of 30 techniques, from filleting fish to washing lettuce, that are aimed at demystifying the idea of eating well, which Waters writes is “too much fun to be reserved exclusively for foodies.”
In between signing autographs, Waters nibbled fava-bean crostinis, sipped a Negroni and answered some questions about her own kitchen.
WWD: Do you still have time to cook at home?
Alice Waters: I cook a lot at home. In fact, I made a Sicilian pasta last night with fresh local sardines, fennel, currants and pine nuts. The sardines are just now in the market. I took them off the bone and sautéed them in good olive oil and garlic. For the fennel, I went along the roadside in Berkeley and picked some, which I blanched.
WWD: What kind of food are you excited about this summer?
A.W.: I’m very interested in whole-grain noodles, so you are not eating empty calories.
WWD: What time do you eat dinner?
A.W.: Last night I ate about 8:30, which is late for me. I usually eat around 7.
WWD: Do you ever raid the refrigerator at night?
A.W.: I’ve never done that. I never eat between meals.
WWD: Which kitchen utensils are the most important?
A.W.: The first is a really inexpensive mandoline for thin slices, or a very sharp knife. I also need a cast-iron pan and mortar and pestle.
WWD: What ingredients should everyone have in their pantry?
A.W.: Pepper is indispensable. Garlic is the ultimate — I’ll rub it on a piece of toast with olive oil, which is also indispensable.
WWD: In the book you teach people how to cook without recipes by learning basic techniques and becoming familiar with ingredients. With all your experience in the kitchen, do you ever have any culinary flops?
A.W.: Oh, God yes, but normally I make do by making it into something else. If the beans are overcooked, I’ll make them into a puree, or if a sauce is too loose, I’ll make it into a soup.
WWD: What’s your view on the Obamas’ White House vegetable garden ?
A.W.: It’s beautiful, and I thank them for helping people define the pleasure of eating. Although I would have planted the whole lawn.