Julia Child taught America how to cook and, more importantly, eat. But it was Alice Waters who taught America what to cook and eat. Alice Waters has been a pioneer in educating us about fresh and local ingredients for years. Her Berkeley, California landmark restaurant, Chez Panisse, is a bastion for foodies in search of spectacular dishes prepared simply with fresh, local ingredients. Waters has used her success to influence a whole generation of chefs and diners on the importance of using seasonal and local foods. In addition to spreading her philosophy through books and TV appearances, she has created the Edible Schoolyard, a program to engage children in the importance of eating locally.

Photo Credit: David Sifry

Waters credits a visit to France in the 1960s as the impetus for her passion around simple, local foods. In turn, I owe a much of my own approach to food to a visit to Chez Panisse in 2003.

Though Waters is not cooking on the line anymore, the food is still perfectly simple and simply perfect. One particular standout, a pizza of sorts, still resonates as an example of just how pleasing simple food can be. On top of a delicate crispy crust, the Chez Panisse team had whimsically arranged salty prosciutto, baby fava beans and arugula from their own garden, parmigiano-reggiano