One tends to think France-by-way-of-California when considering Alice Waters and her prix-fixe Berkeley temple, Chez Panisse. Yet the mother of American farm-to-table cooking spent her grade school years in Chatham. In her memoir; Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook [Clarkson Potter; 2017, with Cristina Mueller and Bob Carrau], Waters traces the unconventional path to her now-legendary restaurant’s 1971 opening. Spoiler alert: It begins in the Garden State.
This may surprise those unfamiliar with our bounty. To be fair; Waters half-jokingly writes of the slim sophistication found in a childhood New Jersey “cuisine,” where flourishes like wine pairings were unknown—the quotation marks are hers. Still, there were culinary breadcrumbs that pointed toward her trailblazing future.