Alinea, is perhaps the most important restaurant in the US and ranks amongst the top 10 in the world. Located in a low key area in Chicago, this restaurant commands reservations months in advance and $500 for the tasting menu. Alinea, cannot be separated, without its founder and executive Chef, Grantz Achatz, who studied under two of the most important men in modern culinary history, Thomas Keller, of the French Laundry and Per se, and Ferran Adria, of El Bulli fame. Keller is the man with the most Michelin stars in the US, and Ferran’s cutting edge approach to cooking has defined a generation, inspiring many genius’ as well as copycats.
This week marks the 6th year of Alinea’s success as a restaurant. Staying in business in this economy is not an easy task, one must be doing something correctly, because novel- avant-garde cuisine isn’t necessarily a staple in today’s world.
Achatz can be compared to Chopin, because he was doing something monumental and innovative, all while he was in the weakest of health. Chopin is perhaps the most important composer for the piano taking ideas of Bach, Beethoveen, and Mozart and transcending their ideas into eternal music that is etched in the annals of time. What is notable about Chopin, is that he wrote exclusively for the Piano that’s why his works are amongst the best. Chopin was weak in the majority of his life, dying from cystic fibrosis while composing music nobody today will probably even touch.
In 2007, Achatz lost his own ability to taste. He was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer, which metastasized to both sides of his neck. His surgeons told him they were going to cut out his tongue and replace it with muscle from another part of his body. With the surgery, Achatz only had a 50 percent chance of surviving beyond two years. But, he says, he was even more afraid of losing his ability to taste and eat.
“I lived my whole life in the kitchen,” he says. “Not only that, but it’s the passion, it’s the love for cooking and food. It’s dictated my entire life — every aspect of it. So, in some ways, the thought of not being able to do that anymore radically affects your life.”
Black truffle explosion. Spherical Black truffle juice made solid and liquid at the same time and formed into a beautiful ravioli, with shaved black truffles on top.Bite into the ravioli, and it bursts open in your mouth with a gush of pure liquid truffles and butter
Hot potato, Cold potato.
Short rib with guinness and peanuts.
Kobe beef short ribs with beets, cranberry, campari.
Hearts of palm stuffed with different filings, wasabi, truffle.
Watermelon compressed to look like Tuna Sashimi.
Wagyu Kobe beef with Maitake Mushroom.
Mint, Buckwheat, Passionfruit
At Alinea, Grantz employs the Anti-Griddle, a device that precisely does what it means, its the opposite of a grill, it freezes instantaneously what it touches so you have have things that would otherwise be impossible to achieve, such as frozen olive oil with a nougat texture.
This freeze dried pea soup, is a pretty much a deconstructed pea soup at the opposite temperature, each pea is meant to be spooned with a different ingredient in the soup, so you can see how sherry goes with peas, olive oil.