BERKELEY — Posing for a photograph in front of the refurbished front porch of her Chez Panisse restaurant, chef Alice Waters smiles as a passer-by calls out, "Looking good!"
It's true. They do look good — both the chef with the sparkling blue eyes who helped ignite America's interest in fresh, local food and the restaurant, all spruced up after damage from a fire this March.
This was the second fire to hit Chez Panisse in its 42-year history, coming almost exactly 31 years after a serious fire in 1982. Luckily, the toll this time was much less severe with sprinklers keeping the flames from spreading and damage mainly confined to the two-story front porch seating areas.
And if you're looking for self-pity over this latest setback, you won't find it at Alice's restaurant.
"Whenever there is fire, new things happen. New things sprout up like in the forest. It's just a moment to really reflect on what to do," says Waters. "Everything seems to happen for a reason, it just sort of woke us all up."