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OP: Chez Panisse Desserts

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by Lindsey Remolif Shere

Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, opened in 1971 by Alice Waters (1944– ), has been at the forefront of the farm to table movement since before it was even known as such. The restaurant’s ethos developed organically with ready access to the exceptional local produce of California farmers. The heightened flavors, aromas, and textures of such fresh and lovingly grown ingredients speak for themselves and require little intercession on the part of the chef. 

With that ideology in mind, the restaurant, somewhat famously, has unabashedly served a single, unadulterated peach for dessert. While some have relentlessly mocked the notion as audacious at best, culinarily lazy at worst, its earnestness is an honest representation of the philosophy Chez Panisse brings to the restaurant world. And, truly, who could argue that a ripe peach at the height of summer is anything short of sublime?

Lindsey Remolif Shere (1935– ) was the pastry chef at the helm from Chez Panisse’s opening until her retirement in 1998. Published in 1985, Chez Panisse Desserts is a shining example of the simple, rustic-leaning desserts offered at the restaurant. The dishes sing of flavor, an alluring reminder that quality ingredients at peak ripeness need very little gilding. 

A teaser of recipes: Charentais melon ice cream, calling for only the melons, sugar, cream, and kirsch; apricot souffles served with creme anglaise for something light and a little showy; or a quince and apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream and a glass of Sauternes for a delectable fall treat.

It is worth noting that simplicity does not mean lack of technique on the part of the cook, and Shere offers plenty of thoughtful advice and instruction to hone the pastry cook’s skills.

Chez Panisse Desserts remains in print in paperback and continues to be an influential pastry classic. We are pleased to offer a Fine second printing copy. The dust jacket, illustrated with a Wayne Thiebaud painting, is price clipped and with light shelfwear and fraying to the head of the spine.  A manufacturing error has cased ripples in the laminate across the front of the jacket.

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