Alice Waters (with a bowl of cherries) at Vader Vineyards, Napa, 2007. Image by David Sifry, courtesy of wiki commons.org.

The lamps glowed and the audience sat, anticipating, as Alice Waters made her way up to the stage. She sat down, and the crowd of forty went silent. As she started to talk in her quiet calm voice, the whole world seemed to be listening.

I went to go see Alice Waters, a renowned cook and owner of Chez Panisse, said to have changed the way we eat in the U.S., at the Hill Center on October 25. She talked for sometime about France, politics and how they are dealing with the way we eat, how to eat organic, and the impact that education has on food. As a child, she said that she grew up eating “american” food, canned, fried, and frozen food with which the only preparation would be to warm it up. This all changed when she went to France. As she said, “France was kind of a revelation to me.” With its farmers markets, fresh meals, and good food at home, France went on to change the way that Alice would live the rest of her life.

Alice spent most of the night talking about children and food. “85 percent of the country doesn’t eat with their family anymore,” she stated boldly, her soft voice rising with disgust, “We have to feed our children real food.” Her solution was schools. “I think it all comes back to education.” she said, right from the beginning. The key for her was for schools to teach other food related classes–gardening, cooking, and so on–that relates back to all of the “normal” classes. Her point was actually that food ties in with every part of life, home, work, school, everywhere, every moment, everyone. 

I spent the weekend after I saw the Alice Water’s lecture at the Pottery on the Hill show. Dan Finnigan, the potter who started it, has a studio on my family’s farm, and the pottery show is something that our family looks forward to and spends the weekend at every year. I love the pottery show because I get to see people who are amazing at what they do, who are able to sit down with a tool and make something beautiful, or useful, or something that will change the world in some way.

There is something amazing about seeing people who are the best at what they do. They walk through life with such confidence, knowing that they have found what they can make a difference in the world at. From the Alice Waters lecture to the Pottery on the Hill show, these people are pushing and making something they love.

You don’t need to be a potter or a cook to recognize someone who is amazing at what they do. They all have one thing in common—passion. Next time you see someone who is really amazing at what they do, take note of it, and if you are willing, leave a comment on this page. What drives their genius?

Sarah Cymrot
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