Culinary Arts

The Farmer’s Market: Learning From the Source

Alice Waters

Lesson time 09:13 min

Alice teaches you how to become a discerning shopper whether at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Learn her guidelines for selecting ingredients, including questions to ask vendors and farmers.

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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ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): Finding the best ingredients might feel daunting. But there's nothing mysterious about it. You just need to learn to follow your senses. I urge you to find a farmer's market where you live. But if you shop at a grocery store, you can apply the same principles. - These are beautiful. Are things from around here? - The centrals? Yeah, those are Mendocino. - Mendocino. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): Ask where your food comes from. And ask for them to support local, sustainable farmers in your area. Shopping at a farmer's market will allow you to talk directly to the people who grow your food. - This year all of our whole wheat flour is 100% California grown. And in our white flour-- ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): This is where I've learned almost everything I know. And I'm still learning. - Next week. - Next week. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): Farmers know the most about ripeness and taste. Ask them for help picking produce. - The nice thing about pears is they store well. - But you have to have a kind of cool place to put them. - Right at 32. - Oh, really? - Yeah, we keep them right at freezing. - How long do they last at 32? - Four months. - Four months. What I don't know. What I don't know. - We picked these in August. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): Ask whether to use it that day or to let it ripen. - Yeah, when they start to shrivel right around the stem is when they're really sweet and juicy. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): Always ask questions. This is the foundation of your edible education. I'm looking for food is good, clean, and fair. Here are some of the questions to ask at the grocery store or the market. All of the best cooks I know are sensualists who take pleasure in smell, taste, feel, and the beauty of real food. Tasting is the very best way to evaluate something. - Oh, my god. Yuzu, I've never seen this. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): This is how you will develop your intuition and reawaken your ability to taste and discern. - That's fantastic. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): You may think you know what a tomato or a carrot tastes like. But nothing compares to in-season, just picked produce. - We're just starting to get into that transition time from the summer crops and moving into a little bit of the chicories and the escaroles. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): It should look and feel alive. - It's really beautiful. - This looks like a rose. ALICE WATERS (VOICEOVER): When you handle food that's alive and living, it will inspire you. Go to the market before you decide what to cook. Decide your menu based on what you find there. That will free you from an over-dependence on recipes. Every day when we cook at Chez Panisse, it's almost as if we're doing it for the first time. We don't work from recipes. We see what we have to cook with and build a menu together. I do the same thing at home. ALICE WATERS: Now I've got this chicken that needs to be unpacked-...

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.

Importance of seasonality and only eating ingredients when they are in season. Simple is best - does not need to be fancy. Learnt basic recipes which will be handy in any cook's repertoire.

Unlike the Thomas Keller class, I didn't really increase my technical knowledge with this class, but my appreciation of the art and love of cooking is at new highs. Mrs. Waters is a warm and loving person whose character flows through to her food, what a blessing.

Interesting, very different from the other cooking classes here.

Alice, thank you for sharing your passion for cooking with me. I love cooking for my family and friends, it’s always from the heart.


Linda K.

Inspired by this video, I went to our local farmers market and spoke at length to the woman who grew and harvested saffron. I learned a lot about how to cook with it and use it in other ways. She even gave me some printed recipes! Rewarding experience!


I went to the market last Saturday, and through I did not ask about the origin of the produce (it wasn't really a local biological market) I did ask about how to best preserve the stuff I bought and how long for. It was great to see that the market sellers were very happy to give information. I liked communicating with them, and I'll probably go back and shop from the people I had good conversations with. It's great to build a little bit of a relationship with the people that sell your food!

Paulína S.

Sadly - i didn't have good experience while asking people about origin or how-when-why... Reasearch is up too me but it's still fun thing to do!

Michele D.

I cook in a similar fashion; I build my recipe based upon what is available, what I can see and what I smell. I appreciate this class for the fundamentals that it truly brings to the table. Thank you Chef!

Patricia P.

Thank you for a great start! Reminds me of when I lived in Seattle and early Saturday mornings. I often arrived while the farmers were still setting up and the produce was so very fresh. Every day I am thankful for those memories.

Suzanne S.

I love the Farmer's market. I don't have the same feel for what will necessarily go together for an upcoming meal-I will definitely become more interactive with the Farmers and ask for their suggestions.


This lesson has definitely inspired me to visit my farmer's market. I will have to do more research on where I can find some near me. I would love to go and explore all the fresh produce, smell the mingling scents of nature's glory, gaze upon the variety of colors and shapes, connect with local farmers, and create a meal from what I get out of the experience. Perchance, did anybody try to find instructions on how to prepare chicken broth from chicken bones and trimmings that is mentioned in the Learn More section? I couldn't find it in the Learn More recipe section of Chapter 5. Maybe I keep looking right over it?

Shannon G.

Merci! It was so pleasant listening to Alice. I teach culinary workshops three times a year in France and I'm going to implement the market meal idea. I've always gone with a meal idea first, but now I will let me guests select the food and then cook. Thank you again!

Amanda M.

I LOVE shopping at a Farmer's Market when at all possible. Great suggestion to talk and ask questions. Makes sense that the growers would be passionate about helping you enjoy their product and have a great experience. Great idea creating your meals or snacks based on what you find versus going after items in a recipe that may not be the most ripe today. Thank you!!

Simone M.

Admittedly, I rarely go to a farmers market because the grocery store is closer; it's easier. This lesson has inspired me to explore the farmers market, to make the effort for better and fresher produce. Thank you Alice!