How has Chez Panisse changed since its opening in 1971?

I haven’t changed my message from the very beginning. Here at the fortieth year, I’m still saying “don’t compromise.” We’re focusing on taste. We want something very good to give to everybody who comes to dinner. But 40 years ago, it was very, very difficult to find the ingredients for cooking. We used to go out to the farm stands that were next to the farm. And now we have a farmer’s market right out in front of Chez Panisse, which is amazing. I mean, right there! There’s a farmer’s market within 15 minutes of this restaurant every day of the week. So, that has multiplied geometrically around the country. You can get a cup of coffee, real coffee. There are little coffee bars, and little cafés everywhere in the big cities—even small cities. I think there are salads on practically every menu. Not just a little bit of parsley sometimes, on the side of a plate. We have gone from wedges of lettuce to mixed salad, in a beautiful way. I think people, young people, are becoming farmers now, and they don’t just want to farm soybean. They want to do the whole palate of flavors and a big diversity of vegetables and fruits. They’re farming in a very different way; they’re bringing the people from the city out to the farms and that’s something really, really new.

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