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Alice's Restaurant


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Alice’s restaurant

The next day, our last in San Francisco, we were to dine at “Alice’s restaurant’….Chez Panisse. My first taste of Alice Waters' food was at a celebratory dinner after receiving the first Satyajit Ray award for ORLANDO, at the San Francisco festival some twelve years ago. It was not untiI the Telluride festival last September when we premiered YES that I met her in person. After the first screening she somehow magically organized a small drinks gathering for Joan, Christopher and myself and some people who had watched the film, including the elfin and brilliant theatre and opera director Peter Sellars. We sat around for hours, as Alice embraced the space with her uniquely light and skilful hospitality. We talked, and some of us wept, happily, about our lives and losses, and with joyful relief at the wonderful reception of the film. We called Simon, who was filming in Paris. Peter spoke to him in French, eloquently and generously. The air was ripe with understanding of the necessity of celebrating this moment.

Some months later I had the awesome task of proposing somewhere for Alice and I to eat in London, where we would be joined by another famous chef, Sally Clarke. It was a cold and rainy evening. The three of us sat huddled in my chosen venue, ‘St John’s Bread and Wine’ and discussed the philosophy of the slow food movement. Alice was en route to a huge convention in Milan, where producers of regional produce were to meet and exchange news and views and share each other’s sausages, honey and bread.

Now here we were with her at her table in her restaurant in Berkeley, bathed in the soft light of a golden sunset. A bowl of fresh salad arrived, garnished with a scattering of edible flowers. I found myself unexpectedly moved, and looked up and caught Simon’s eyes, also moist with appreciation of its delicate beauty. 

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Simon with Alice Waters

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Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated