Where do I even begin with Grant. He is a culinary genius. For those of you who don’t know who he is – Chef Grant Achatz is the brains and owner of Next, Aviary, Roister and the well-acclaimed Alinea (currently #21 in World’s 50 Best Restaurants).
Coming from a family-run diner in Michigan, he worked his way up from dish washer to the egg station and now after years of hard work, culinary school and ambition he is one of the best, refreshing and innovative chefs in the world today.
What makes him stand out compared to other chefs? It’s the way he thinks, he will take an idea and break it down to its most nominal form, then ask himself, how can I make this different. If someone asked me how I would describe his cooking, I would say it’s cooking that is aimed to take you on a journey. He wants you to not only taste with your mouth, but eyes, ears, hands and nose – he wants to re-ignite or create a memory.
Below are just some of the dishes that were/are part of the Alinea menu. You just end up looking at them and a flurry of emotions may come over you; anger, confusion, awe, happiness or sadness. Each individual element of Grant’s dishes are pieces of art, each has reason, a purpose of being on the plate.
Grant has been through a lot in his life to get to where he is now. One of the things is his battle with cancer. He was essentially at one point, a chef that could not taste, but that didn’t stop him coming up with new ideas. When he lost his sense of taste, he had to enhance his other ones, which I think made him an even better chef than he already was.
He was diagnosed with tongue cancer in his 30s, he was told that he would have to get around 75% of his tongue removed, and would probably still die. This all changed when he went to the University of Chicago who were trialing a more innovative approach of radiation therapy to target the tumour – and now cancer free.
The way in which he really inspires me is the way he’s able to create such amazing dishes with proper creative planning. I’m sure he’s able to improvise with ingredients but when he really thinks about what ingredients go with each other and what he can do to them, that’s what’s inspiring. The quote below sums up Grant so well.
“People like to think the creative process is romantic. The artist drifts to sleep at night, to be awakened by the subliminal echoes of his or her next brilliant idea. The truth, for me at least, is that creativity is primarily the result of hard work and study.” – Grant Achatz (Taken from the Alinea site)