Culinary Arts

Follow the Rhythms of Nature: Seasonal Eating

Alice Waters

Lesson time 15:06 min

Learn why the most iconic dessert at Chez Panisse is the most unembellished—the fruit bowl. Alice teaches you how to engage all of your senses to test ripeness and choose fruits at the peak of their season.

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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The idea of serving simply a bowl of fruit at Chez Panisse seems audacious to some people. But I embrace that audacity. You don't need a restaurant or a copper bowl. I challenge you to find what is perfectly in season and ripe, and then just slice it, taste it, and serve it. - The writer Michael Pollan came to the restaurant a while back, and he was looking down to the desserts at the restaurant, and he saw the galette, and he saw the profiteroles with huckleberry ice cream. And then he saw a fruit bowl. He said, it almost costs as much as the sweet desserts. What could this be? And at that time, it happened to be peach season. And so he had the peaches from Mas Masumoto's trees. And we had sorted peaches very, very carefully. And we only want the ones that really make an impression. So we had the peach there in slices. And he took one bite. And it was unforgettable for him. He talks about the fruit bowl all of the time. And that's exactly the effect I want to have. I'm going to put together a fruit bowl that we serve at Chez Panisse every day. It's about how we go about choosing the food that we serve at Chez Panisse, and the food that I cook at home. Now I have these persimmons-- the fuyu persimmons-- right in my backyard. I have two trees. And so I have the opportunity to pick the leaves from the trees. And they become part of this fruit bowl. And I just want to make sure that they are ripe. I always cut them and taste them. You're tasting, and you're tasting, and you're tasting. And food is a living thing. And so you really have to-- to know that after it's picked, it's always changing every day. And so you're always wanting to taste first. So I'm-- oh, I'm thinking definitely I want to put this on the fruit bowl. I, of course, at this moment in time, in the fall, I thought surely there are grapes. But I went looking for them. And in fact, there's only this varietal of grape. And when I take a really close look at it, I realize that it was picked some time ago. You can see the little stems have turned brown. And even though it's a beautiful organic fruit, it doesn't look alive to me. I'll taste it just to make sure that it's not worthy of the fruit bowl. But I love the look of it. I like different shapes. And so I brought it anyway. I think we will make these into sherbet. They are not good enough to put on the fruit bowl by themselves. In fact, they're a little tart. And for sherbet, that can be a very good thing, because you're adding sugar to it. And-- and then you can bring forth the taste a little bit more. Let's see what we'll put in there besides the persimmon. I think maybe a pear. Now again, there are many, many, many, varietals of pears, and of apples. This is a bosc pear. And it has a very distinctive texture. It's much more firm. It's much harder. But actually it's quite delicious, quite tasty. And it should be kind of juicy. You'll know whether a fruit is ripe just by tasting. I...

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 love her use of old world cooking. I love her explanation of the herbs in her cooking. As I type this, I'm in the kitchen cooking a soup going to use her suggestion of frying rosemary in olive oil to finish meal off. Love her.

I have a greater appreciation for so many things, from the ingredients in cooking, to the tools, to the practice.

Taking a different approach to cooking - more taste and sticking to seasonality and smell the food to appreciate it

I learned that it is very important to keep the traditions of our family, "La comida casera". Less is more.


Nicolas S.

LOVED this chapter...does everyone know where to get the recipes for the seasonal menus listed in the video and the cookbook?

A fellow student

I love watching her, its so meditative. I love her pace of speaking and the things she explains, almost love poetry like... This is why I don't think I enjoyed her daughter very much, she was nice but gave it a little bit of a youtube home made video feeling.

Graeme R.

So brilliant and exciting. I wish there was a calendar of fruits and vegetables for our area (Western New York) so that we can know what to look for at the public market or Wegmans.


I love Alice Waters ‘ approach and philosophy towards food, seasonal, local and tasting it.


What a great way to think about food. It brings back memories of my childhood, when the food we had was the food that was either available in season or was pretty much home preserved. We had a huge vegetable garden and we would buy apples, pears, and cherries by the case in the fall. One of my dad's favorite meals in the summer was "boiled dinner", which consisted of onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans and turnips picked that afternoon, cooked and served with a simple cream sauce with pepper. Now our markets offer food that can only be there if it is picked days or weeks ahead of time and mostly has no taste. I've been planning my garden this morning and dreaming of the amazing taste of home grown tomatoes!

Amy Rebecca P.

Beautiful! Actually brought tears to my eyes hearing her talk about the seasonal food. My feelings exactly. Real food changes you. You can’t ever go back to thinking about it the way you used to.

Meg N.

Having lived in a "food desert", the privilege and luxury of being able to enjoy these simple things is breathtaking. At the same time it points to touches that can be grasped on a small scale and incorporated in a healthy way to improve our lives and health. Pursuit of this type of eating can be a worthy social OR solitary pastime. I was fascinated by the alternate uses of "unworthy" fruit, which can help expand my repertoire in sensible ways. At some point, looking at the expense, I suspect I can eat enjoyably and well as described in this course, or I can pay a doctor after consuming factory-produced "edible food-like substances" that leave me feeling "off". I am being re-inspired here.

A fellow student

I am setting a goal to create at least one fruit bowl for a dinner with friends every season this year and really work on the lessons Alice shared in this episode. This is motivating me to keep it simple, but delicious.

Milton S.

I'm a retired HS Photo teacher and enthused home cook on Long Island . I want to thank MasterClass for the inspiring lessons on food, photography and ...perspective. Wolfgang, Thomas Keller, Annie Leibovitz and most recently Alice Waters have been remarkable.

Linda N.

I'm a pastry chef in Portland, OR. Fruit varietals in the Northwest are superb in quality and number. My focus is always increasing the intensity of a singular flavor. Alice challenges me to sink more deeply into simplicity.