Alice Waters thinks New Jersey tomatoes are better than California tomatoes

Culinary dean of the Bay Area Alice Waters – the owner and chef of Berkeley’s flagship restaurant Chez Panisse – is making waves in the news this week, including a spicy take on tomatoes and a planned new restaurant in Los Angeles.

Even as a major proponent of California cuisine and the state’s bountiful produce, she isn’t as hot on some of the fruit here. “When I think of New Jersey corn and tomatoes, nothing I’ve ever had in California is better. We don’t have a humid enough climate. Tomatoes are good here but not like Jersey, ”she said. new York magazine in a recent interview for the Grub Street diet which is already set Twitter on fire.

Waters grew up in New Jersey. She also said she only ate tomatoes during tomato season, unless she uses a canned tomato for winter pasta. “I don’t want to eat second-rate food; I want to eat the real thing, ”she said.

Growing tomatoes is a huge business in the Golden State. Californian farmers account for over 90 percent of tomatoes found in canned tomato products across the country. California Tomato Growers Association proudly proclaims the “state tomato growers are among the most innovative, resourceful and efficient farmers in the world.” Still, quantity may not beat quality for those who are picky with Waters.

Fruit news aside, Waters is also gearing up to launch its first new restaurant in decades. The unnamed new location will open at the Hammer Museum on UCLA’s Westwood campus this fall. Like Chez Panisse, a pioneer of the Slow Food movement, this restaurant will also focus on seasonal products. “Healthy food from local farms dedicated to responsible and regenerative agricultural practices” will be the focus, said a representative from the Hammer Museum in Eater LA, who announced the news of the opening of the restaurant.

There are no details yet on the menu or the exact opening date. A representative for Waters did not immediately return a request for comment.

That’s not all in the summary of Waters news this week. At the start of the week, the legendary chef launched a new book, “We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto”, which highlights slow food culture with an emphasis on “biodiversity, seasonality, stewardship and fun at work”.

And despite his take on the tomato, Waters’ Grub Street Diet was still filled with love for all that California has to offer. She gets her granola from Cafe Bartavelle in Berkeley, eats Acme’s Steve Sullivan’s bread and has berries almost every day when they’re in season, including this year’s blueberries. Then she said she was excited about the garlic: “We always have a garlic festival in July, and I can’t wait because the garlic at that time has just the most glorious flavor, strong but not too strong. “

Waters, long regarded as one of the pioneers of Californian cuisine, debuted Chez Panisse in 1971. She was also co-owner of West Berkeley’s Cafe Fanny, which opened in 1984 and closed in 2012.

Tanay Warerkar is the associate food and wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @tanaywarerkar

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