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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why All the Hatin' on Alice Waters?

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 1:50 PM

America's most hated?
Activist icon Alice Waters has come in for harsh criticism in recent weeks in both bloggerdom and the national press -- Eater SF documents the vitriol here, and here -- including an apparently erroneous incident that had Waters throwing a hissy fit at Thomas Keller's Per Se. Criticism of the Chez Panisse founder is hardly new, but we're sensing something novel: highly personal attacks aimed like sucker punches.

What's going on? Vanity Fair contributor David Kamp, who wrote critically about Waters in The United States of Arugula, told SFoodie he thinks the attacks are over the top and unfair. "She deserves critique but not vitriol," Kamp said, giving likely reasons for the hate. First, Waters was upfront about lobbying -- unsuccessfully as it turns out -- the Obamas to name an activist chef, a slow foodie who'd thoroughly green the White House kitchens. Then there was the comment in January by the predictably mouthy Anthony Bourdain, describing something very "Khmer Rouge" about Alice. "He blew open the doors" to the current hate spate, Kamp said.

Kamp hasn't spoken personally with Waters since his book came out, but calls her a trooper when it comes to unflattering press. "She's able to take criticism but is not oblivious to it," he said, suggesting that the Khmer Rouge dig was a particularly inaccurate blow. "She's more Le Creuset pot than Pol Pot."

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