Chef Alice Waters signs books and posters outside of her restaurant. 'Always look for the flea markets, always look for the used. They can be so special because they have so many memories in them,' she says. Caroline Champlin/KQED
Chef Alice Waters signs books and posters outside of her restaurant. 'Always look for the flea markets, always look for the used. They can be so special because they have so many memories in them,' she says. (Caroline Champlin/KQED)

PHOTOS: Chef Alice Waters Holds First and Last Chez Panisse Yard Sale

PHOTOS: Chef Alice Waters Holds First and Last Chez Panisse Yard Sale

Famed chef Alice Waters didn’t expect a Sunday morning yard sale outside her Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley to draw much of a crowd.

But hundreds of people — some who started lining up at dawn and came from as far as Burlingame and Half Moon Bay — jumped at the chance to look through Waters' personal items: pottery, sea shells, candlesticks and even a wooden cheese wheel.

“I guess I was a little naive about it. I thought I could casually do this,” she said. “But my daughter put it on Instagram, and that was the end of that.”

Waters spent the morning signing posters and cookbooks, and talking about the origin of various items.

When someone brought her a Chez Panisse breakfast menu to sign she said, “It just makes me want to cry.” It was from when the restaurant tried operating from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. "Needless to say, that was over in a week. It’s basically the breakfast we never served.”

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This is what Waters says she likes about flea markets: everything has a backstory. “I want to resist buying new. I’d rather just find something that was made to last," she said.

Waters even stopped some people from buying items that were too close to her, like a first edition cookbook.

Keasley Jones helped organize the event and says the money raised will go towards Waters’ nonprofit, Edible Schoolyard.

And even though it was a big success, Waters says this was definitely a one time thing.

Milo Blue of Oakland (right) hands out tickets to manage people's place in line. Blue came to the yard sale as a customer, but offered to help with crowd control.
Milo Blue of Oakland (right) hands out tickets to manage people's place in line. Blue came to the yard sale as a customer, but offered to help with crowd control. (Caroline Champlin/KQED)
Two women browse for cookbooks and more outside Chez Panisse in North Berkeley. People came from all over the Bay Area to look through chef Alice Waters' belongings.
Two women browse for cookbooks and more outside Chez Panisse in North Berkeley. People came from all over the Bay Area to look through chef Alice Waters' belongings. (Caroline Champlin/KQED)
Letty Van of Berkeley looks over some ceramics at the sale. 'I was born and raised in Berkeley and just love this stuff.'
Letty Van of Berkeley looks over some ceramics at the sale. 'I was born and raised in Berkeley and just love this stuff.' (Caroline Champlin/KQED)
Sue Lau came to the sale with her daughter, Lei Lynn Lau, from Burlingame. Lau said people were crazy for waiting in line. 'These are all used things. You can go to the store and buy new things for less money.'
Sue Lau came to the sale with her daughter, Lei Lynn Lau, from Burlingame. Lau said people were crazy for waiting in line. 'These are all used things. You can go to the store and buy new things for less money.' (Caroline Champlin/KQED)
A collection of seashells was another Waters artifact up for sale. 'I'm trying to sell all the things I've gathered over 47 years. And offer them to people who might really like to own them and treasure them,' Waters said.
A collection of seashells was another Waters artifact up for sale. 'I'm trying to sell all the things I've gathered over 47 years. And offer them to people who might really like to own them and treasure them,' Waters said. (Caroline Champlin/KQED)