Editor’s Mixing Bowl

As you pulled this magazine out of your market bag and set it on your kitchen table, Chez Panisse has just turned 50 years old. And if you also pulled out some brilliantly colored peppers, a fat striped tomato, plump figs, some glossy eggplants, and enticing ears of corn, these are far more likely to be from a local farm that you know by name than they were a half-century ago, before the famous restaurant launched the farm-to-table movement into popular view.

Even now, as we face such painfully trying times, it’s good to stop and think about how that food movement we associate with Chez Panisse has broadened. We no longer look for just freshness and flavors, but also equity and respect at our sharing tables.

In addition to honoring Chez Panisse, this issue also visits the Freedom Farmers’ Market, where a community-building effort showcases the joy and labor of African American farmers. You’ll also learn about Just Fare, a business that combines great takeout with community service and generous wages. At the Girls Garage, you’ll see an effort to train and enable a young and diverse group not generally associated with carpentry in the past as they build a greenhouse for urban agriculture.

And, of course, we have plenty of recipes and inspiration to help you relish and fully appreciate the bounty of our fall harvest season. May it bring you joy and plenty.

Cheryl Angelina Koehler
Publisher and Editor
Edible East Bay


Berkeley artist and publisher L. John Harris made the drawing below, a forward-looking street view of Chez Panisse, in September 2011 on the occasion of the restaurant’s 40th anniversary. As he ponders the 50th year, Harris sees how his vision is fitting, if not even more prophetic:

You see, we are no longer talking about a restaurant with evolving buzzword labels—California cuisine, farm to table, slow food, and so on—as Chez Panisse has become a cultural institution. The future in situ functions of Chez Panisse I imagined in 2011—a school, a shop, a museum, and a café—may not all be physically present when it reopens post-Covid, but these elements will all be virtually there and have been for some time. The café’s bar functions as a shop selling the many books that reflect Alice & Co.’s mission through time. The interior walls are a showcase for the vintage French film posters that inspired the Provencal-leaning cuisine in the early years. The kitchen serves as a training center for talented chefs of the future. The structure itself, inside and out, has been transformed over the decades into an ode to California’s Craftsman aesthetic, a perfect little boutique musée structure. As for the restaurant’s status as a “California Historical Site,” it’s only a matter of time. And with it, might we expect that the section of Shattuck Avenue from Vine to Cedar will be closed to traffic, converting it to outdoor eating, shopping, and strolling? I hope so. How about renaming this section of Shattuck Avenue, formerly known as the Gourmet Ghetto, Alice Avenue? We’ll know more by 2031. Happy Birthday, Chez Panisse, and many happy returns of the day!    —LJH