Culinary Arts

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.

I want to learn more from Alice Waters about home cooking and her school program. Our schools need this educational life skills program in our area. Thank you for the inspiration!

I really enjoyed the classes. I am far from being a chef, just an enthusiastic home cook. This class has given me some new ideas and new inspiration.

the joy of cooking with fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients

Relaxed, informative, thought provoking and greatly appreciated after a hard day’s work. Egg on a spoon!!!!



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.

A fellow student

This whole master class brought tears to my eyes. Alice Waters exudes, so thoughtfully, a love of service, of gratitude, of wholesome, of the values of connection to the earth’s bounty and our bounty in each other. I was soothed, comforted and inspired by her. I smiled through every lesson, and shed tears, too. Thank you, Alice.

Meg N.

Although I do use dishes and glassware that has significance for me, I haven't used many of the family china & glass that I have. I should do that. Meanwhile, the bit not to be missed is portion size - if the food is "real", with varied textures and flavors in reasonable portions, together with the water and the wine or after-dinner coffee and dessert, the older portion sizes are satisfying. If it's uniform texture & flavor, industrially-processed, and focused on calories & additives, you can eat all too much in one sitting. I've usually managed to avoid that pitfall, but should probably now step up to proper table setting and music..

Ericson H.

This is one of my favorite lessons. Alice shows depth and emotion behind it's purpose. If the silverware breaks, it breaks! "Let it go!" And the story about her 100 year old French grandmother was touching.

Sharon F.

Love your philosophy of food and dining. I think I need to start using my "good" dishes again. I live alone now and have stopped. After this Masterclass, I think I can feel confident in inviting friends again and making a simple and lovely dinner. I do miss doing this.


This was beautiful. A timely reminder of what "used to be" that we need to return to. I am more and more aware that not only are we not setting the table "intentionally" , in many families there is simply NO setting of the table at all. Our children need this, it is a place of calm and an assurance that they are deeply cared for and connected.


This was a lovely, lovely lesson. I also love setting the table and using my favorite dishes and glasses. I recently got out the old silver and polished it and am attempting to use it more often because it needs less polishing that way. I always have a small low centerpiece of flowers or greens from outside - a few cuttings of skimmia or heather or even maple leaves - that is the most fun for me and I agree with Alice that it makes your guests feel special and welcome the minute they see the table. I'll probably never achieve Alice's expertise with cooking food - the grilled chicken would make me terrified of burning or undercooking, but I go with my strengths and I try to serve homemade bread (made that day) when I have guests. So simple, yet so appreciated.

Gary V.

Love hearing about Alice's family background and her journey to become food legend. Especially enjoyed her thoughts on table setting and the importance of slowing down over food.