Chef, author and food activist Alice Waters is a pioneer of a philosophy that celebrates local, organic, regenerative food. Since opening her seminal restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, 48 years ago, she has become one of the world’s best known chefs and most visible advocates for a food system that is ‘good, clean and fair. ‘
Alice is also the leading advocate for what she has long called “Edible Education” – restoring real food to its natural and central role in our lives and communities. Knowing that our public schools are the most important place to reach children from the earliest ages, she founded The Edible Schoolyard Project 25 years ago as a comprehensive, inclusive approach to food education. The Edible Schoolyard is an innovative model for integrating food and agriculture into the core academic curriculum of every school day, including tireless advocacy for a free, sustainable school lunch for all students, K – 12.
As a centerpiece of this mission, the online Edible Schoolyard Network (edible schoolyard.org) was created as a way to gather and share lessons and best practices from school gardens, kitchens, school cafeterias and academic classrooms worldwide. To date, there are 5,500 ESY Network member programs in 57 countries – including the original seven founding Edible Schoolyards, which span the country from California to New York.
Alice’s vision for Edible Education began 26 years ago with the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley, a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. As the flagship program, it is nationally recognized for its efforts to integrate gardening, cooking, and school lunch into the core academic curriculum. Over two decades, thousands of students have been exposed to all aspects of the food cycle, instilling in them the knowledge and values they will need to build a humane and sustainable future on our planet. Each year, about 1,500 visitors come from around the world to see the garden and kitchen classroom, including teachers and administrators, public health advocates and community leaders who come to participate in a week-long Training Academy each July.
Since 2002, Alice has been Vice President of Slow Food International, a global organization made up of millions of people in over 160 countries who work to preserve local food cultures and traditions and ensure food access for all. In 2003, she conceived and helped create the Yale Sustainable Food Project, and in 2007 she launched the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome.
Alice’s honors include election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007; the Harvard Medical School’s Global Environmental Citizen Award, which she shared with Kofi Annan in 2008; and her induction into the French Legion of Honor in 2010. In 2015 she was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama, who lauded her for upholding the connections between “the ethical and the edible,” proving that eating is a political act and that the table is a powerful means to achieving social justice and positive change. Alice was most recently awarded the honor of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana” in 2019.
Alice is also the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea, and Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook.
Recent Honors and Affiliations
Monticello food consultant, September 2019
Parabere Care Award, Parabere Forum, March 2019
Cavaliere della repubblica Italiana, January 2019
Johannes van Dam Prize, Amsterdam, November 2018
Honorary Degree, UNISG, June 2018
Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement award in Social Entrepreneurship, 2018
National Women’s Hall of Fame, 2017
Foundation Medal, UCSC, 2015
The National Humanities Medal from President Obama, 2014
Time 100 Most Influential People of 2014
American Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2014
Wall Street Journal Magazine’s Humanitarian Innovator of the Year, 2013
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Amherst, 2011
Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur, 2010
Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Princeton University, 2009
California Hall of Fame, 2008
Co-recipient with Kofi Annan, Harvard Global Environmental Citizen Award, 2008
Founder, Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy, 2007
Honorary Doctor of Arts, Dartmouth, 2004
Vice President, Slow Food International, 2002 – present
Founder, Yale Sustainable Food Program, 2001
Alumni of Year, UC Berkeley, 1999