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Catherine Brandel, Leader in California Cuisine, Dies at 56

May 19, 1999|From Staff and Wire Reports

Catherine Brandel, a driving force behind the emphasis on locally grown seasonal produce that became one of the hallmarks of California cuisine, has died. She was 56 and had a rare form of muscle cancer.

Brandel worked at Chez Panisse from 1983 to 1994 as a chef and, perhaps most important, as a "forager," searching out local growers and suppliers of everything from herbs to lamb. Most recently, she was an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone campus in the Napa Valley, which she had helped create.

"Catherine was an original," said Alice Waters, Chez Panisse's founder. "She could find anything, cook anything, teach anything, and I'm not sure the restaurant could ever have happened without her."

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