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Coming Back to the Table

Alice Waters

Lesson time 12:32 min

Learn how a life-changing trip to France led Alice from the frozen dinners of her childhood to pioneering the farm-to-table movement.

Alice Waters
Teaches The Art of Home Cooking
In 16+ lessons, learn to cook beautiful, seasonal meals at home from the James Beard Award-winning founder of Chez Panisse.
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When I was in France the first time, I was 19. And I really hadn't eaten before in any profound way. And it was an awakening. It was an awakening of my senses. And it happened because it was a slow food country. I mean, people took their time. They cared about what they ate. And I was fascinated by it. And they could spend hours at the table in the evening talking-- talking about politics, talking about just what had happened to them during the day-- and enjoying the whole meal, the courses that they got. It was always portioned out in such a beautiful way. And I was brought into that life and was happy to sit in the cafe in the afternoon and watch the world go by. And we're just in such a rush right now that we miss the beauty and we miss the friendship. - I just wrote a memoir, and so I've reflected probably the first time in my life on what it was to grow up in New Jersey. And I tried to think about what my childhood was like and how that brought me to this place that I am right now. And my parents had a victory garden. I didn't know that I was being adequately educated in a way by sitting out in the victory garden and eating a warm strawberry in the summer. I had no idea, but I have a strong memory of that. And I played all day long out in nature. We didn't have a television, so we just played outside. So we always had to come to the table at 7 o'clock at night, and we all ate dinner together. And the only unfortunate part was my mother wasn't a very good cook, but she cared about our nutrition. She cared about us, and she just didn't have the information about really what was incredibly healthy. And the culture of fast food was just then feeding her the wrong ideas about frozen TV dinners and all of the rest. I think we really do want to gather, but it's so much easier when the food on the table is homemade and delicious. When you're cooking, your hand making the food. And your friends can feel that, they know that you made that ravioli for them. That you did it with your own hands. You made your own bread. You tore the leaves of the salad. It's very different than when you order food in and you don't pay attention to where it came from. And that's what going to the farmer's market does too. You're connecting with a person who actually grew food or took care of those chickens and brought those beautiful eggs. And it enriches your life. And it is my hope that all of you will understand this. Many of you may already understand it, but I know that if I could just give you that perfect peach-- if I could give that to you, you would really understand. - When I was growing up, setting the table was my job. It's still one of my favorite things to do. Setting the table with intention, even for everyday meals, communicates so much. I always like to set the table first. In fact, very often I set in the afternoon of a dinner that's happening in the evening because it gives me the reassurance that things will look good wh...

Farm-to-table cooking

Alice Waters started America’s farm-to-table revolution. When she founded the iconic restaurant Chez Panisse, her local, organic ingredients sparked a movement and earned her the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. In her first-ever online cooking class, Alice opens the doors of her home kitchen to teach you how to pick seasonal ingredients, create healthy and beautiful meals, and change your life by changing the food you make at home.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This was my favorite class so far. I felt as though she inspired me. I love cooking, and am beginning to garden. I'm not great at using the ingredients I grow in my meals. I felt this class gave me great tools and new skills to practice.

A lot of practical tips and ideas I found extremely useful in home cooking. Many thanks!

Magnificent Class Taught by an Inspiring Woman

Enjoyed this class and learned a lot about cooking.



I raised 4 kids. We never had dishes that matched because they always broke. Seems like I was always trying to get the budget to fit the family's needs so upcycling, recycling, and buying from thrift stores was a thing. I was so happy to see Alice talk about not having things match, making napkins from upcycled tablecloths, etc. We had to redo our entire kitchen due to some roof issues. I replaced our mismatched dishes with Fiestaware because they don't match and, "If you break one, who cares?" And I love all the colors. And I've found other dishes elsewhere that go with the bright colors. I've never felt good about my table setting skills because I've rarely had the resources or the creativity to pull it off. I'll be pulling out that blue pottery pitcher I bought at the growers market and will use it all the time. I'll also use the clear pitcher I got off the sale rack at pottery barn. Cloth napkins? I'll work on that. But this simple lesson gave me the confidence to really bring my passion for cooking to the table in a more beautiful way.

Kristina D.

The Alice Waters series is life-changing...or should I say "life-giving"! What an incredible class for anyone - from beginner to expert. I feel like Alice is my friend and I am in her kitchen! Fabulous.

A fellow student

This class has been incredible, so nice to watch and be part of it. So cozy and friendly - thank you.

A fellow student

Thank you for this class. In this computer dominated age, coming to the table as family or with friends is truly difficult. I know for our family I'm having to ask my adult children to put away their phones, to have a conversation amongst us all and to taste the food! So needed. Can I ask Alice where you get the wine? Is it only sold in France? Thank you again, Maureen

Emily G.

Alice - YOU are the perfect peach. I find watching you very soothing, your lessons stir emotions in me in addition to learning some new techniques. I appreciate the reminder our food is alive and to treat it with gentle respect. I absolutely love the open fire right next to your dining room table. You are the Mother of our country's slow food and thank you for sharing your inspiration with so many. I adore you. xoxoxo

Regina D.

Wow, I'm just amazed. Alice is a creative artist. It resonates with me in how she cooks for people and sets the table for everyone. This is what I've done in the past; cooked something and felt like an artist (basic chicken, rice and a simple salad!) and served people making the table pretty for them. You are giving something to others and involved in the creation process. It's a learning process for you and an expression of love for others. You can do this even with little or less fancy tableware, and even with a simple meal of rice and chicken. Alice brings us into a world that we were meant to be in. She emanates childlike love, creativity, passion and perspective I feel we are actually supposed to have regarding eating and preparing meals. It's a process that involves others and not just us and our individual hunger. Its a reverse in thinking. It's also wisdom and satisfying.

Regina D.

While in Italy this year, I saw what Americans miss out-just like what she said and I quote, "We miss the beauty and we miss the friendship" in regards to taking your time at living a slower life, cooking and sitting around the dinner table.


Love it. Thank you for mentioning that 'slow food' extends to the table - i.e. the way we can take time to eat together...and how meaningful that is.

Graeme R.

I just love Alice Waters' lack of pretension. We can do a mongrel mix of glasses from two wedding gifts, Ikea, and the Goodwill, and plates from 35 years of marriage. Who cares, and when the food is great, why would we? Brava, Alice. We love you.

A fellow student

This brought a joyful tear or two to my eyes. Alice is such a beautiful soul.