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5 things we learned from Alice Waters’ talk at UC Berkeley

From left, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Alice Waters and Heyday Books publisher Steve Wasserman chat before Waters' book event at the Free Speech Movement Café at Moffitt Library. The event was the first one tied to the release of her memoir. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

From left, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, Alice Waters and Heyday Books publisher Steve Wasserman chat before Waters’ book event at the Free Speech Movement Café at Moffitt Library. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

Alice Waters is not your average celebrity chef.

The so-called godmother of California cuisine seems to prefer activism to television (Guy Fieri, take note) and has championed a variety of causes throughout her life, from free speech to free school lunches.

She spoke with Steve Wasserman, publisher of Heyday Books, at the Free Speech Movement Café at Moffitt Library on Thursday, in the first event tied to the release of her long-awaited memoir.

Here’s what we learned from the talk.

1. She recently gave a peach to Al Gore.

Hoping to draw attention to the connection between food and global warming, she gave the Colorado-grown fruit to the former vice president, who recently released a follow-up to his acclaimed documentary about climate change.

“Thank God, (the peach) was perfect,” she said.

Talk about delicious diplomacy.

2. She has a daily ritual that helps her stay in shape.

“I walk out and take a walk up the hill for 45 minutes,” she said, also noting she also does some “little exercises” as part of her routine. “It’s almost like a meditation.”

Oh, and one more thing: “I try not to have anything in my house that’s too tempting.”

Waters and Wasserman talk about Waters' life and memoir. Asked about what she regrets, she mentioned passing on the opportunity to meet John Lennon, saying she was "too intimidated." (Cade Johnson for the University Library)

Waters and Wasserman talk about the chef-activist’s life and memoir on Thursday. (Cade Johnson for the University Library)

3. She had an unfortunate incident with fish.

Once, Chez Panisse brought in live trout, which found temporary residence in the kitchen sink. Apparently not taking kindly to the chlorinated tap water, they began jumping out, causing — as you can imagine — a chaotic scene.

“It was before we had an open kitchen,” she said, which spared diners the possibility of an impromptu show during their meal.

4. She has strong feelings about President Donald Trump

What does she think about Trump’s announcement about the repeal of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, or DACA, which protected nearly a million undocumented immigrants who came here as children?

“I think the most important thing is for us to all band together — in a spiritual way,” she said. “They need to know we support them.”

5. Her favorite recipe?

Get some fresh mint, boil water, and pour the water over the mint. And wait. Then drink.

“That’s the recipe,” Waters said.

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