How important is service to Alice Waters?

There’s one piece, the taste of the food, and the other piece is the hospitality. And I think they have to go together to make something really successful. It has to be genuine—it has to be real food and real hospitality. The people who work at the restaurant have to be excited about what they’re doing. So I spend a lot of time trying to engage them, [and] try to make this place desirable to work in. One thing that we’ve done [is that] we don’t have chefs who work six days. We have two chefs who work three days each, and then they can have time with their family and work on menus the other days and they’re paid for full time. Then downstairs we have one chef who works half of a year and another that works the other half, so that they can go out in the world and bring ideas back to the restaurant and do other jobs like writing books or teaching class. They’re paid for the whole year, so that brings them back with a kind of enthusiasm. And waiters do the same. Young people who come from college work three days, most of the time. You’re really trying to accommodate people’s other interests, and I think that’s very important for their happiness of working here.

Related Questions