Waters opened the restaurant in 1971. It was consistently ranked among the World's 50 Best Restaurants from 2002 to 2008. Waters has been cited as one of the most influential figures in food in the past 50 years, and has been called the mother of American food. She is currently one of the most visible supporters of the organic food movement, and has been a proponent of organics for over 40 years. Waters believes that eating organic foods, free from herbicides and pesticides, is essential for both taste and the health of the environment and local communities.
In addition to her restaurant, Waters has written several books on food and cooking, including Chez Panisse Cooking and The Art of Simple Food. She is one of the most well-known food activists in the United States and around the world.
She founded the Chez Panisse Foundation in 1996, and created the Edible Schoolyard program at the Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley, California. Waters serves as a public policy advocate on the national level for school lunch reform and universal access to healthy, organic foods, and the impact of her organic and healthy food revolution is typified by Michelle Obama's White House organic vegetable garden.
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