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National Restaurant Association - Josè Andres, Alice Waters talk about power of food

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Josè Andres, Alice Waters talk about power of food

For anyone who questions the power food and restaurants have in bringing communities together, look to Josè Andres and Alice Waters for the answer.

Both spoke Oct. 27 on a Washington Post “Food for Thought” panel. Andres, owner of the Washington, D.C.-based Think Food Restaurant Group, and Waters, owner-operator of the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., use food as a tool for change. For the last month, the Spanish-born Andres and his World Central Kitchen were in Puerto Rico, delivering 2 million meals to Hurricane Maria victims. He returned to the states Oct. 26.

Waters, who’s operated Chez Panisse for the last 47 years, is a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement. She also is the force behind the Edible Schoolyard Project, which started 20 years ago at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. Its garden and kitchen are used to teach students about math, science, social studies and agriculture in an interactive way.

Here’s part of the conversation:

How Andres’ work in Puerto Rico changed him

“My faith in humanity has multiplied by 10. Watching people who had nothing they had no hope, they had no electricity, no water, but I saw happiness in their faces as they came together to be 'We the People,' all for one, one for all … making the best with what they had.”

“I think we have to all of us keep talking. The Constitution of America, which I really love, doesn’t say, ‘I, the Person. It says, ‘We the People.’ ”

Jose Andres, owner, Think Food Group

How Waters inspires Andres

“If people like me … try to become agents of change, it’s because of people like her. She began doing what nobody thought was possible and she didn’t do it by planning, she didn’t do it by talking, she did it by action. In Puerto Rico, the only thing we did was we began cooking. We didn’t plan, we didn’t meet. We began cooking, and we delivered one meal at a time.”

Waters on standing up for your beliefs

"The counterculture of food is happening now, absolutely. I arrived in Berkeley in 1964 and heard [free speech activist] Mario Savio speak. He talked about how important it is to stand up for something. We were powerful because we were together. We believed we could change the world. I’ve never lost that.”

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