Last weekend I finally got the time–and the ‘want to’–to read Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. The book was printed in 2007 by The Penguin Press, and I bought it in September 2009 at Borders Bookstore for $5.98 (original price was $27.95). I had started reading it in 2009 but gave up on it due to lack of interest on my part. What then made me pick it back up and forage onward to finally finishing it in two days time? I think a lot had to do with me personally, with my outlook on life, and with me becoming more open-minded about a lot of things. The reason I say all that is because during this time around, I found the story about Alice and her restaurant peculiar and interesting. I admire Alice for believing in her dream and having the infectious energy and charisma to draw others to believe in her dream, too. I applaud her vision for the kind of restaurant she wanted Chez Panisse to become, and I liked discovering how she, too, evolved and matured as a person. I don’t agree with all her decisions regarding her business and her life, but I truly enjoyed seeing how her journey unfolded. She is totally human, with all her faults and kind-hearted generosity and drive for educating children and the populace about sustainability and good food.
One common thing I see from people who turn their love/passion into business is that sooner or later–at one point in their lives–that very thing that brought exuberance to them can also deplete them. It’s a cycle. Again and again in the book I learned how Alice worked nonstop because she was passionate about the restaurant and serving exceptional food, and then how the work drained her, exhausted her so that numerous times she felt like shutting down the restaurant or quitting. She never did though. When she hit bottom, she either took a break and retreated to Europe or found something that inspired her with new ideas to push through and continue.
Life needs balance. That lesson is repeated again and again throughout history. No matter how much you love doing a thing, you need to balance it out with something else. I suppose that’s just human nature. But I believe if we realize that and are really aware of it, so that we incorporate balance into our lives, it would help us a great deal. I would help us not only to function but to maintain and fuel the inspiration and love for what we do.
We have always seen the meal as a center of the human experience. At the table we are nourished and gladdened, put in touch with the source of life . . . . It is central to both the deepest and the most joyous of human activities: generosity, companionship, nourishment, growth.
CHEZ PANISSE’s official pronouncement on sustainability
I love cooking. I love cooking for my friends, my loved ones and for myself. When you share a meal with someone, especially when you share a meal that you have prepared yourself with someone, you are sharing a part of yourself. You’re not only feeding a person, you’re giving them your love, time, resources, attention and care. At least that’s my opinion.