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Organic Fixation

The other Waters comes to town, Dream Inn gets a new chef and the garden is wide open

By Christina Waters

Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters still squirms a bit about being called the mother of California cuisine. But her culinary influence is nonetheless legendary--and, as we increasingly notice, far-reaching. Since she began making a big deal about using not only organic produce, but organic produce from specific farms and growers in the kitchen of her Berkeley restaurant, more and more consumers--and restaurateurs--are paying attention to what they put into their mouths. Only readers from Mars will be unaware of Waters' high-profile championing of natural farming methods and the choice produce available from farmers markets around the Greater Bay Area.

So it's quite a coup that the Santa Cruz Area Restaurant Association (SCARA) is able to bring her to town at an April 18 lunch, talk and reception titled Alice Waters Visits the Santa Cruz Farmers' Market. Starting at 10am with an onsite showcase of top farmers' market growers--including Route One, Bar D and Chance Creek--the event's showcase will be a talk by Waters on the vital importance of supporting local growers, something she feels passionately about. Waters will discuss how she forged links among growers and her chefs and formed strategies for community support of organic farms, as well as her own current pet educational project involving experimental organic gardens in the public school system. Naturally, there will be time for questions as well as book signings.

The most delicious aspect of this latest SCARA event involves a special lunch prepared by some of our own top chefs utilizing recipes from Alice's own cookbooks. On the line whipping up California cuisine for the '90s with the freshest of local, organic ingredients (naturally!) will be Tom King from Papa's Church, Charlie Deal of Oswald (it's not "Oswald's," folks, it's "Oswald"), Mimi LaCocque and Tom McNary from Aptos' Carried Away caterers and Jim Denevan of Cafe Gabriella.

If you hurry to make reservations, you'll hold what is rapidly becoming the hottest ticket in town--for only $45 general/$35 SCARA members. The place is Peachwood's Restaurant, at Highway 17 and Pasatiempo Drive. The time is from 10am to 2pm. The number to call is 429-5736. See you there!

Strawberry Fields

Yes, you! Come on and take a tour Thursday, 4-6pm, and sample some strawberry shortcake at the UCSC Farm Apple Orchard. And while it'll be fun just to tour this verdant treasure at the foot of the campus, the not-so-hidden agenda for the get-together is to help launch this season's Community Supported Agriculture project, where members invest in a percentage of a garden's annual harvest. The garden, in turn, provides the ultimate in fresh vegetables and fruit to investors on a weekly basis. A link is forged between growers and consumers, and everybody gets the best.

The UCSC Farm & Garden, one of the premier growing centers of our organically gifted region, wants to continue to forge grower/consumer links with its surrounding neighbors in the Westside and university areas, so it's inviting the community to a truly old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake Festival & Open House. You can meet the Farm & Garden staff and apprentices at this spring get-together, learn how to invest in a season's worth of fabulous organic produce or simply enjoy the spring weather and some strawberry shortcake.

Dream On

Down from the mountain--well, actually, the Boulder Creek Country Club--comes the Dream Inn's new executive chef, Ted Elston, a culinary veteran of the Sacramento restaurant scene. "We chose Ted because we wanted someone with fresh ideas but who has learned the buisness from experience," says Russ Cox, the beachfront landmark's manager.

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From the April 11-17, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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