Alice Waters & Danielle Alvarez: Can what we eat be a Political Act?

Can what we eat be a political act? If you ask chef’s Alice Waters & Danielle Alvarez, then the answer’s a resounding ‘YES’.

Here in an exclusive interview the two chefs discuss why the move to regenerative farming is essential in the West and how each shops and cooks sustainably, in their respective homes of San Francisco & Sydney.

Alice Waters is not only the lauded chef of dining institution Chez Panisse, in Berkely California but also founder of the Edible School Yard Project designed to challenge industrial and mass produced food in the U.S. school canteen system.

Danielle Alvarez has cooked in some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants and is a leading proponent of the farm-to-table food philosophy exemplified by her Paddington restaurant Fred’s.

Together Danielle and Alice tell us what drives them to try and change the world one meal at a time.

Hosted by Founder of The Together Project Amanda Talbot, this familial conversation discusses sustainable food systems, the impact of Covid-19 on hospitality and the impact of industrial farming in The United States. “We’re imprisoned by the fast food movement,” says Alice Waters, “And we are jailed because we are not engaging with the beauty of nature.” These two inspiring women, explain how the five senses can connect us back to nature, providing a place of rich solace and an important opportunity to commune with the world around us. This conversation offers useful ideas about how we can make a difference to the future of our planet - simply by what we put in our mouths.

“We’re imprisoned by the fast food movement. And we are jailed because we are not engaging with the beauty of nature.”
Alice Waters
Fred's Paddington, is a farm-to-table concept restaurant in Sydney Australia, run by Executive Chef Danielle Alvarez
“The health of our planet is totally intertwined with the health of us as humans”
Danielle Alvarez

Alice Waters is also a mentor of the unstoppable force that is Executive Chef Danielle Alvarez. Danielle is another champion of the farm to table movement and the author of the cookbook Always Add Lemon. Born to a food-focused Cuban family in Los Angeles, Danielle Alvarez has cooked in some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants.

Together with Waters, Alvarez discusses the lasting impact chef mentors have had on her food philosophy.

“The health of our planet is totally intertwined with the health of us as humans,” says Danielle Alvarez making an impassioned plea for people to realise the sacred and divine nature of eating to support your gut health and all health and well-being of farmers and the planet. At her restaurant Fred’s the kitchen is designed as part of an open plan layout dining room so that chefs and diners are co-located. Creating such a welcoming, home-like atmosphere in restaurants, is what Alice Waters says has helped the West re-examine its relationship to food.

The flat structure of the kitchen is what she credits as the real ‘force of the farm to table movement’. This non-hierarchical system is what has helped to break down the traditional formal barriers between chef and team, and chef and diner to create far more dialogue about the produce and our farmers.

Both chefs are driven by a commitment to sustainable farming, regenerative practices and embody a near religious fervour for the produce and the role it plays in creating food magic.

To watch the entire video, click here.

Left: Chef Danielle Alvarez carries a tray of lobster in the kitchen at Chez Panisse. Right. The Kitchen bread making bench at Chez Panisse.

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