Book: Chez Panisse Built on Drug Profits

Hed: Drug Dealers Financed Chez Panisse’s Early Days

So says a new book about Alice Waters, as recently reviewed by a Bloomberg food critic. If you’ve read our food writer John Birdsall’s review of said book, by reporter Thomas McNamee, you may be already familiar with the wacky stories of waiters exhaling dope smoke as they haul your slow grub to the table, or a staff so consistently inebriated that they swiped $30,000 in wine in 1972. But how’s this for a revelation: Many of the restaurant’s earliest investors were drug dealers. “They were the only people who had money,” Waters says. “The only sort of counterculture people who had money. We couldn’t get it from a bank. God knows.” Well, props to Waters for copping to it, at least.

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