Alice Waters Cooks Up Greens Restaurant Anniversary Dinner

Greens Restaurant

The Greens Restaurant 40th Anniversary Acclaimed Chef Dinner Series continues its impressive lineup of guests chefs this month. Several Bay Area culinary luminaries have been invited to create an all-vegetarian four-course prix fixe meal inspired by historic menus from the last 40 years of Greens.

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse presided over a sold-out dinner in early August. But don’t fret if you missed it — the series continues this month with Suzette Gresham of Acquerello on September 11, followed by Kim Alter (Nightbird: October 7), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen: November 4), and Pam Mazzola (Prospect: December 11).

Waters’ dinner was comprised of Summer Tomato Salad (a la Panisse with basil and aioli) and Chanterelle Mushroom Fazzoletti (in Mushroom brodo). This was Followed by a main course of savory Grilled Canard Farm Eggplant and Peppers with Saffron rice pilaf and herb sauce. The lauded Berkeley chef’s finale was a Raspberry and Prosecco Fruit Soup with sliced peaches and langue de chat. Those with freshman French on their CVs will recognize the term as “cat tongue,” a small biscuit or chocolate bar.

Tastes Like Chicken

The non-vegetarian idiom notwithstanding, Waters is no stranger to culinary creativity. She’s featured prominently in Les Blank’s documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe in which she prepared the filmmaker’s leather ankle boot for consumption after he lost a bet with fellow filmmaker Errol Morris.

The word was it didn’t “taste like chicken,” which is the report on most mystery meats (we’re supposing it was more like shoe leather though Herzog gamely chanced a few bites).

Waters’ relationship with Greens dates back to the restaurant’s inception in 1979 — Chez Panisse alumna Deborah Madison, the all-vegetarian restaurant’s founding chef, consulted with Waters when developing its menu.

“40 years ago organic farming was very unusual. The fact that Green Gulch Farm believed that nourishment began in the ground and that they were bringing this food to the customers at Greens, it was very impressive,” says Waters. “At Chez Panisse today, I’m moving closer to vegetarian food and using meat more as a condiment rather than the main dish. I think it’s for us to all think about now, and Greens was on the forefront of that kind of thinking.”

Surrounded by views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin headlands and the Marina, Greens Restaurant has long been a cornerstone destination in Fort Mason and was designed using reclaimed wood and recycled material decades before such materials became trendy.

A portion of proceeds from the August 5 dinner benefitted Waters’ nonprofit, the Edible Schoolyard Project. For more information and to purchase tickets to the Greens 40th Anniversary Acclaimed Chef Dinner Series, visit greensrestaurant.com.

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By Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the films Pill Head (on Amazon) and the upcoming Wolf Story. He is the author, most recently, of the novel "Quantum Deadline" and editor of The North Bay Bohemian and The Pacific Sun. Learn how he went from small-town newspaperman to a feature film director here.

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