Chef Alice Waters Discusses The Future Of The Slow Food Movement
December 4, 2013 1:20 p.m.
Alice Waters, Chef, Author, The Art of Simple Food II
Tom Chino, Owner, Chino Farms
ALISON ST. JOHN: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. This will be a delicious segment because our guests are Alice Waters and Tom Chino. Alice has waged a pretty major role in replacing processed food by mining us with the. She has been growing food at her own restaurant and her idea has been going around the world. Alice has a new cookbook called ìThe Art of Simple Food.î Alice is on the line. Thank you for joining us.
ALICE WATERS: Thank you.
ALISON ST. JOHN: We also have Tom Chino, and you have a lot which siblings of the family farm in Rancho Santa Fe. Chino Farms, which is hosting a new event and book signing for Alice on Saturday, thank you for joining us. Alice, let's start with the background. A lot of people have heard your name, but they may not know how much of a pioneer you are and what is known as the slow food movement. Start off by describing to us why you feel you are pioneer in terms of food?
ALICE WATERS: I had a restaurant Berkeley for the last forty-two years. When it began, I really was looking for a taste. I had lived in France and I wanted that strawberry that I had had when I went to Paris and I wanted that they get and these things that were so delicious. And of course I could not find him. I could not find that the market so I started to just go out there and sort of scour the countryside ending up ultimately at the doors of the local organic farmers. This is back in Berkeley. I really love my time of living in France in the 60s, and it made up take impression on me and there are so many small restaurants owned by people who make their living that way and I got to know them and they went and shopped maybe twice a day at the local markets.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So the French really have an unusual appreciation for the delights of food. And you brought that back with you.
ALICE WATERS: They did there come not sure that they still do. I think we have all been pulled into the fast food culture and it's very difficult to think of food as something that is precious and to think of taking time sitting around the table and spend time cooking, these are things to go against it the fast cheap and easy of fast food nation.
ALISON ST. JOHN: How much do you think your ideas have caught on? Do feel like things are turning around?
ALICE WATERS: Think goodness we have the Tom Chino's. They are there with their vegetables and the food right there at the farm. It has brought people back to their senses and it's a beautiful thing.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Let's talk to Tom for a minute. Your farm provides fruits fruits and vegetables to a lot of restaurants around San Diego and Southern California. Tell us a bit about the kind of vegetables that you provide and how it has grown the popularity of your fresh produce.
TOM CHINO: I parents started the farm at the end of the war. They did the standard procedure of sending their crops to the wholesale market and to distributor stores and we're such a small farm and we became our farms became larger with irrigation farming and produce and sale of produce. Sort of industrialize, we're the first performers in the area. My parents decided to open a vegetable said they wanted to differentiate ourselves from the civil market because that was the competitor. We tried to grow things there were unusual and different. San Diego has a very sophisticated market because UCSD has provided a lot of professors from various countries and students from various countries and the demand to have produced from their backgrounds ethnically. So we tried to grow various unusual things to provide this produce.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And I love the story about how you Alice came upon your produce.. Tell us about your green beans.
ALICE WATERS: We had an unusual friend who knew that I loved French things and she had he had been to the Chino stand and he bumped into me in Berkeley and of course that was the beginning of a great relationship.
ALISON ST. JOHN: You recognize the green and green bean and he tasted it.
ALICE WATERS: They were so perfect and the fact that Chino had been planting the seeds from all over kinds of countries around the world and not just one kind of green bean but probably many kinds of green bean.
TOM CHINO: We had twenty-five varieties of green beans.
ALISON ST. JOHN: How many restaurants come to you for fresh produce?
TOM CHINO: The expansion of farmers markets is increased and many restaurants can find produce close to their location. It's quite a hike to get produce but we have some that come to us directly to pick the produce.
ALISON ST. JOHN: They come directly to your farm to pick it fresh? You will be at the Chino Farms for Saturday, this is the second book that you have produced, and has pages and pages of recipes for Swiss chard and greens and the thing that would be dismissed in a couple of pages in the normal cook book, how did you decide to lay this out and make it is an inspiration for how to use fresh vegetables?
ALICE WATERS: It is really trying to reconnect people with the growing of food. I have manifesto at the beginning of the book and the first thing I say is to treasure the farmer. That is really what it's about, figuring out how we can eat and eat with intention and give her money to the people who are taking care of the land and preserving the biodiversity of fruits and vegetables and the people that really care about our nourishment and that is kind of the thrust of the book.
ALISON ST. JOHN: To you with intention, I love that your recipes are simple, they are not really disguising the freshness of the vegetable with too much ingredients here. Since you just had Thanksgiving I looked at this brussel sprout recipe and it was a beautiful recipe sautÈed with sesame seeds and ginger, but is not overwhelming things with other ingredients.
ALICE WATERS: When you have that beautiful flavor you don't need anything else. It's so easy to cook when you're right in the season, and that is something is so rare to have the vegetables at the chinos, just pick that whining and put on the set is like having your own backyard garden.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Alice, I think your palettes have been corrupted by fast foods in some ways and do you think that everyone has the power to be able to appreciate that?
ALICE WATERS: We need to educate ourselves and everyone is capable. There are probably a few people that will never have good taste and there us exceptional teachers as well. I think everyone can appreciate the beautiful peach season. I think of fruit first, but I really believe that we can all fall in love with vegetables. There are there is so much beauty in that character the palette and the shape of vegetables and those are all part of what is in this book, trying to identify the fruits and vegetables that are gastronomical a important. I think that is a very different way to farm.
TOM CHINO: I really think so, are produce that of looking like something stored in a cramped like a crypt like dead bodies, our produces a live on the stand because it's been expect that day and they can see is harvesting at that day.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Tell us about this event they are having on Saturday, is this something that people will actually get to eat some of these vegetables and to some of these recipes?
TOM CHINO: We have a number of things like there will be fresh pizzas made with our produce and we will have a wine tasting. They all have a pioneering wine there as well. His wines are primarily French and their relatively unknown French wines. He is instrumental in transforming the appreciation of those kinds of wines in the United States.
ALISON ST. JOHN: San Diego is becoming more attuned to this idea of freshness, and we do have a big agricultural industry.
TOM CHINO: It is inescapable because the concentration of small farmers in San Diego is probably higher than any other region of the United States because the weather is ideal and they can produce things throughout the year, and the farmers market and the market for has made it impossible for them to have a venue for the produce.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Alice, how women who the woman who is a candid kindred spirit of yours and this philosophy of food that your friend Judy who also had a restaurants and San Francisco, what did she mean to you and what did she contribute to the simple fresh food movement?
TOM CHINO: She was a pretty extraordinary woman. She has a beautiful cookbook. It really expresses her passion about food. She came when she was there and she feels like a very close colleague and the city has always been my home away from home. She created the style of cooking that was so varied and desirable and the menu of the cafÈ that has been copied around the country. Having that roasted chicken and something like dates and Parmesan cheese, those are all signature dishes of hers and they are perfect ingredients that are laid out on the plate.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Another person who is a passion for the spirit this is spreading to peer just as a food activist would you say is the focus of your advocacy these days? What you think needs the most attention?
ALICE WATERS: There is no question that we need to go to the public and we really need to bring children into a new relationship with food. We need to have the criteria for the buying of food be supporting the people who really care about the nourishment of children. That is where I am, I think all children should eat at school for free, I think it's sort of the bottom line of justice. In America. In a democracy.
ALISON ST. JOHN: I would love to talk to more but we have come to the end of our time, I would like to thank you so much and remind everyone that Alice is coming for a book signing of ìThe Art of Simple Food,î recipes for flavor and inspiration for the new kitchen garden, on Saturday from eleven to 1 o'clock at Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe.
TOM CHINO: We have a website that you can find great information, Goodearthgreatchefs.com.