Alice Waters on free speech, acid and the making of a counterculture cook

Alice Waters

Alice Waters as a student at UC Berkeley, left, and more recently. At Berkeley, she became active in the Free Speech Movement. “It was very, very important that we stood together and created this world together,” she said in an interview. (Left: photograph by Steven Marcus; right: photograph by Megan Alldis)

One of UC Berkeley’s best-known alumnae approaches her story with reluctance. So the famed restaurateur, who co-founded Chez Panisse restaurant and began a revolution in American food, says in an interview announcing her appearance tomorrow at the Free Speech Cafe.

The appearance is occasioned by the publication of her new book — her third —  “Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook.” She will speak, in conversation with Heyday Books publisher Steve Wasserman, and sign books. The 6 p.m. event is being put on by the University Library.

Waters told library interviewer Tor Haugan that she wasn’t sure she had enough to say to fill a third memoir. But with a little encouragement, the memories spilled out.

In her book, Waters revisits her activism as a student at UC Berkeley during the heyday of the Free Speech Movement. She graduated in 1967 with a degree in French, before going on into her better known role as food icon. 

“Alice Waters has dedicated her new memoir to the Free Speech Movement; she feels it enabled Chez Panisse,” Chancellor Carol Christ said. “Her reading, at the Free Speech Movement Café, will enable us all to understand this extraordinary conjunction.”

Waters still has a connection to the campus. In 2001, the Bancroft Library celebrated the acquisition of historical documents and photos from Chez Panisse, which still sets a national standard from its home at 1517 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. 

Read the full story on the library website