"Try to make the food on the plate look like it's fallen off the tree," says Joanne Weir, a fourth-generation professional cook and protégée of Alice Waters. Since her five years with Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Weir has written 18 cookbooks and hosted her own television show on PBS called "Weir Cooking in the Wine Country." There isn't a speck of pretension in her cheery, down-to-earth TV persona or her simple, Mediterranean-influenced recipes. The kitchen in her San Francisco Victorian is equally welcoming; in fact, when she renovated, she planned to teach cooking classes there but found that her fame made that hard to do. Now she takes American students on culinary excursions to wine countries in Europe and Australia and uses her home kitchen for recipe testing and socializing with friends.
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