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Into the black
It took eight years for Chez Panisse to become profitable. "I always said that if we survived the first five years, we'd be here forever," Waters says.

Today, she owns only an eighth of the business. Key staffers have been given shares over the years to keep them excited about and invested in the business.

"Part of my philosophy is to try to give employees a great quality of life. My guiding principle is to put myself in their place and ask what I would find desirable in a job," Waters says. "I also feel that it's impossible for a chef to work productively six days a week. Chez Panisse chefs work three and are paid for five. This way they have a day to go to the market and get inspired to cook. It also gives them time to have dinners at home with their families."

NEXT: Connecting diners and cooks

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LAST UPDATE: Aug 31 2009 | 7:44 PM ET
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