January 19, 2009 / 12:34 PM / 10 years ago

Chef Waters sees healthier U.S. eating under Obama

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Alice Waters, one of America’s most famous chefs, expects the new administration in the White House to promote healthy eating and renew efforts to support locally grown foods.

Chef Alice Waters is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Rick Chapman/Handout

The 64-year-old chef said she has been heartened by signs from Michelle Obama, who has relayed her husband’s concerns about childhood obesity and sustainable farming.

“I’ve spoken to him through his wife. I’m encouraged,” said Waters, who founded the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in California which resulted from her passion for fresh, local ingredients.

Although Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they have decided to stick with the current White House chef, Cristeta Comerford, Waters has been a vocal supporter for a garden to grow organic fruits and vegetables at the White House.

She said it makes sense to improve the quality of food served in schools and to support local farmers.

“We have the moral responsibility to see what’s good for our children,” Waters said, adding that if local farmers become key sources of ingredients to make school lunches it will stimulate local economies.

On the eve of Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States, Waters and other celebrity chefs including Dan Barber and Rick Bayless will cook dinners to raise money for Washington’s soup kitchens and farmers markets in an event billed as “a new beginning for the American table.”

“This is the table we want to sit at,” Waters said. “It’s a delicious way to speak about food and nature.”

The event features family dinners for 20 to 30 guests, who paid $500 each, in the homes of Washington luminaries such as chef Jose Andres and journalist Bob Woodward.

Waters will oversee a meal for about 170 people at the Phillips Collection Museum. The meal, which will showcase locally grown shellfish, cheeses, meats and produce, will put the spotlight on “sustainability through pleasure.”

Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Patricia Reaney

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