Grant Achatz

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Grant Achatz
JOH 0416 (6079731832).jpg
Grant Achatz preparing a dish tableside at Alinea in 2011
Born (1974-04-25) April 25, 1974 (age 48)
EducationThe Culinary Institute of America
Culinary career
Cooking styleModernist cuisine
Rating(s)
Current restaurant(s)
Previous restaurant(s)
Award(s) won
    • Food & Wine – Best New Chef, 1998
    • James Beard Foundation Award – Rising Star Chef of the Year, 2003
    • Jean Banchet Award – Best Celebrity Chef, 2007
    • James Beard Foundation Award – Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2007
    • James Beard Foundation Award – Outstanding Chef, 2008
    • James Beard Foundation Award – Book Award: Cooking from a Professional Point of View, 2009
    • Time 100, 2011
Websitewww.alinearestaurant.com

Grant Achatz (/ˈækɪts/ AK-its) (born April 25, 1974)[1] is an American chef and restaurateur often recognized for his contributions to molecular gastronomy or progressive cuisine. His Chicago restaurant Alinea has won numerous accolades and Achatz himself has won numerous awards from prominent culinary institutions and publications, including the Food and Wine's "best new chefs" award in 1998, "Rising Star Chef of the Year Award" for 1999, "Best Chef in the United States" for 1998 and a 2003 "Who's Who Inductee" from the James Beard Foundation.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Achatz's early culinary career included time spent working in his parents' restaurants in St. Clair, Michigan[3] as a teenager, followed by enrollment in The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Following graduation in 1994, Achatz landed a position at Charlie Trotter's.[4] After a time, he found a position at Thomas Keller's highly acclaimed restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California. Achatz spent four years at The French Laundry, rising to the position of sous chef.

Career[edit]

In 2001, Achatz moved to the Chicago area to become the Executive Chef at Trio in Evanston, Illinois, which at the time of his arrival had a four-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide. Over the next three years, with Achatz at the helm, Trio's reputation soared[5] and in 2004 the restaurant was rewarded with a fifth star from Mobil, becoming one of just 13 restaurants so honored at the time.

In 2005, Achatz went out on his own, opening Alinea in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood with Nick Kokonas. The restaurant is located up the block from the famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company and is housed in a modest gray brick building which bears no external markings beyond its street number. Inside, the restaurant has no bar, no lobby and seats just 64 guests. Achatz serves diners a small-course tasting menu, consisting of approximately 18 courses. After less than two years of operation, the Mobil Travel Guide bestowed its Five Star Award on Alinea, making Alinea one of just 16 restaurants nationwide to rate five stars for 2007.

In October 2006, Gourmet magazine named Alinea the best restaurant in America in its feature on "America's Top 50 Restaurants".

In 2007, Restaurant magazine added Alinea to its list of the 50 best restaurants in the world at number 36, the highest new entry of the year. In 2008, that publication moved Alinea up its list 15 spots, to number 21 in the world. In 2009 Alinea moved up to number 10 in the world and advanced to number 7 for 2010, when it was also the highest ranked North American restaurant honored. Alinea maintained its top North American Ranking for 2011, while moving up one position overall to 6th best restaurant in the world. In 2012, Alinea came down one spot on the list. Per Se gained the 6th place, thus making Alinea the 2nd best restaurant in the U.S. and 7th overall.

In November 2009, Achatz and his Alinea team designed the menu for Ikarus, a restaurant in Salzburg, Austria which brings in a top chef from a different restaurant each month to design the menu for that month and train the staff.[6]

Alinea was awarded three stars in the 2011 Michelin Guide for Chicago.[7] It was repeated in 2012 when Alinea was the only restaurant to receive three stars in the 2012 Michelin Guide for Chicago.[8]

Achatz's other restaurants include Next, a restaurant that uses a unique ticketing system in Chicago,[9] and The Aviary, a bar.[10] Roister Chicago, a casual West Loop concept helmed by Chef Andrew Brochu, The Office, a speakeasy cocktail bar located under The Aviary bar, and The Aviary/ Office NYC located in the Mandarin Oriental, New York.

Reservations for Achatz's restaurant, Next, are so sought after, that tickets could be found on Craigslist for up to $500 per person.[11] In February 2012, Achatz held a Dutch auction for tickets to Next's elBulli-inspired menu, raising over $275,000 for charity in just two days.[12] Auction prices ranged from $4,000 to $5,000 for parties of two.

Achatz has also served as a coach for the biennial culinary competition in Lyon, France, Bocuse d'Or.[13]

In 2016 Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas closed Alinea for a complete renovation and overhaul of the food, space, and experience.

In 2016 Achatz and his team launched two consecutive multi-week pop-up experiences in Madrid, Spain, and Miami, Florida, over the course of Alinea's closure.

On May 27, 2016, Achatz appeared on season two of the Netflix series Chef's Table. In 2018, Achatz appeared as a judge on the Netflix series The Final Table.

Books[edit]

In October 2008, Grant Achatz and co-author Nick Kokonas published Alinea, a hardcover coffee table book featuring more than 100 of the restaurant's recipes. The book's narrative follows life in the kitchen for Achatz and his crew, and includes more than 400 behind-the-scenes photographs by Lara Kastner.[14]

In June 2009, Achatz and Kokonas sold Life, On the Line, their dual-voiced recount of their collaboration on Alinea and Achatz's battle with cancer to Gotham Books.[15] The book was released on March 3, 2011.

Kokonas and Achatz have also released two digital cookbooks from Next Restaurant, one on the Apple iBook platform, and one in a more universal PDF format. As in the style of the Alinea cookbook, both books provide the exact recipes used during the Paris 1906 and Tour of Thailand menus, without making adjustments for the average home cook. While the Paris 1906 book was released for purchase via iTunes, Tour of Thailand was released on a pay-what-you-want model on Next's ticketing site.[16]

Grant was featured in a 2014 Dan Waldschmidt's book Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Success, a book about preventing suicide with sense with stories about famous people that had disasters. Almost at the end of the book, he told the story about Grant's tongue cancer in July 2007 and the success of his restaurant in that time.

Health issues[edit]

On July 23, 2007, Achatz announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, which spread to his lymph nodes. Initially, Achatz was told that only radical surgery was indicated, which would remove part of his mandibular anatomy, including part of his tongue and large swaths of neck tissue. Later, University of Chicago physicians prescribed a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This led to full remission, albeit with some side effects including a transitory loss of his sense of taste, which eventually returned.[17] On December 18, 2007, Achatz announced that he was cancer-free. He credited an aggressive protocol of chemotherapy and radiation therapy administered at the University of Chicago Medical Center for driving his cancer into full remission. The treatment regimen, administered under the direction of Drs. Everett E. Vokes, Blair and Haraf at University of Chicago, did not require radical invasive surgery on Achatz' tongue.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Achatz has two sons, Kaden and Keller, with ex-wife Angela Snell; the couple divorced in 2006.[19]The name "Keller" was chosen to honor of Achatz's mentor Thomas Keller.[20]

Awards[edit]

  • Best New Chefs, Food & Wine, 2002[21]
  • Best Restaurant in America, Gormet, 2006[22]
  • 40 Top Chicago Restaurants Ever, Chicago, #1, 2010[23]
  • AAA Five Diamond Award, AAA, 2007–2017[24][25][26][27][28]
  • Mobil Five Star Award, Mobil Travel Guide, 2007–2017[29][30][31][32][33][34]
  • Jean Banchet Award – Best Celebrity Chef, 2007
  • Jean Banchet Award – Best Fine Dining, 2007
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #36, 2007[35]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, Highest New Entry, 2007[35]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #21, 2008[36]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #10, 2009[37]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #7, 2010[38]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In North America, 2010[38]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #6, 2011[39]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In North America, 2011[39]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, Chefs' Choice Award, 2013
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #9, 2014
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #26, 2015
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #15, 2016
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #21, 2017
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #34, 2018[40]
  • The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, #37, 2019[41]
  • James Beard Foundation Award – Rising Star Chef of the Year, 2003
  • James Beard Foundation Award – Best Chef: Great Lakes, 2007[42]
  • James Beard Foundation Award – Outstanding Chef, 2008[43][44]
  • James Beard Foundation Award – Book Award: Cooking from a Professional Point of View, 2009[45]
  • James Beard Foundation Award – Outstanding Service Award, 2010,[46] 2016[47]
  • James Beard Foundation Awards – Outstanding Restaurant, 2016
  • Top Service Award (Chicago), Zagat Survey, 2006
  • Zagat Guide "Excellent" Rating, 2008
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2011[48]
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2013[49]
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2014
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2015
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2016
  • 3 Michelin Stars, 2017
  • The 2011 Time 100[50]
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2011
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2012
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2013
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2014
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2015
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2016
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #2, 2017
  • Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World - The list. #1, 2018

References[edit]

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  3. ^ "Dad's the pie man Father of acclaimed chef Grant Achatz has his own culinary claim to fame". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  4. ^ Small, Rachel (October 25, 2013). "Grant Achatz Cooks Up Emotion". Interview. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
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  8. ^ "None".
  9. ^ Moskin, Julia (February 15, 2011). "The Perfect Menu. Now Change It". The New York Times.
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  40. ^ S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants Archived September 18, 2020, at the Wayback Machine 2011
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External links[edit]