Friday, October 20, 2006

Alice Waters Not Out to Lunch, Cafeteria Lady Says

By John Birdsall
Fri, Oct 20, 2006 at 3:22 PM

Ann Cooper, the Berkeley's School District's renegade lunch lady, dished out a big plate of regret today over the impression she's at odds with Alice Waters. In a profile of Cooper in the September 4 New Yorker, writer Burkhard Bilger portrayed Waters as a dopey idealist with simplistic ideas about transforming Berkeley's public school lunches. Waters's Chez Panisse Foundation hired Cooper last year to figure out how to banish canned and frozen glop from school lunchrooms, but a system that favors big agro commodities and junk food advertisers has the scrappy lunch lady boxed in. Bilger painted Waters as totally clueless about Cooper's difficulties. "In her perfect world, she'd like to have the kids served bountiful baskets of fresh-picked berries," Bilger quotes a frustrated Cooper, bitching about Waters. "And you know what? It ain't happening." Today, Cooper told the Express Bilger took her comments way out of context. "Alice and I are really in synch with this," she said. "We just take two really different approaches to the same problem." Yeah, that, and maybe the fact that the Chez Panisse Foundation pays Cooper's $95,000-a-year salary.

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