Every since I came across the Alinea cookbook I have become a big fan of Chef Grant Achatz. His avant-garde cuisine is mind-boggling. Since then going to Chicago and eating in Alinea has become part of my culinary bucket list.
I just finished reading Grant Achatz’s new book with partner Nick Kokonas “life, on the line”. I got it for the long weekend but ended up reading all 390 pages overnight.
I could not put the book down. Reading it was like having an adrenaline rush inside the kitchen. It is an inspiring story of Chef Grant’s ambitious journey and finding his place in the culinary world. It is a tale of his passion for perfection, remarkable creativity in developing new menus, and gustsiness in setting-up his own restaurant at such a young age. How he remained in command of his kitchen despite being diagnosed with tongue cancer and the tragedy of not being able to taste food. Then during his recuperation in 2008 he was honored the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in America.
Perhaps what also struck a cord with me was his relationship with his mentor. Thomas Keller gave Grant a break and helped him develop his potential during his stint at French Laundry. Later Keller recognized that he had his own style and was supportive of his career moves. It is a beautiful story of a friendship between mentor and protégé.
Facing death makes us human, changes priorities, and puts relationships into perspective. He was very honest in writing about his failed marriage because of his career and about spending more time with his children. There is also a little bit of romance when he found new love in Heather. Finally finding someone who shared the same passion and I quote…… “Our relationship thus far revolved around food. We loved eating, drinking, and cooking together.”