In a two-part series (the first hits newsstands today), Chicago Tribune writer Christopher Borelli, chronicles the rise of Grant Achatz, leading up to the opening of the acclaimed chef's two new projects, Next and Aviary.
Borelli followed Achatz for months around Chicago during practice tastings of the first Next menu; to Harvard where the chef lectured last fall; and to his home in Bucktown on the morning Achatz received the call he had gotten three Michelin stars, after which Borelli said Achatz turned to him and asked, "Should I call Charlie and say, "Are we even now?'" The Charlie, is Trotter. And the "even" is for remarks Trotter apparently said that Achatz would never amount to anything.
In the full, five-page web version of the feature, Borelli discusses everything from Achatz's early years; having stage IV tongue cancer; the initial inspiration he and business partner, Nick Kokonas, had for Next; earning the rank of No. 7 best restaurant in the world by S. Pellegrino (making it No. 1 in North America); getting three Michelin stars (to Charlie Trotter's two); and Alinea being a celebrity magnet.
Early in the article, Borelli says that 2011 will, essentially, be the year of Grant Achatz and that you won't be able to avoid him. And, in the culinary world, that's pretty dead on. Between the March 3 release of his memoir, Life, on the Line, the opening of Next and Aviary, the possibility of a Next-inspired food truck and more, Achatz will seemingly be everywhere.
His life story is reportedly being turned into a movie; Borelli said Leonardo DiCaprio may play Achatz. Imagine your life being played by Jack Dawson? There are a number of other projects—a documentary; a TV series on the history of food; a possible exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art—that will keep people talking about Achatz for some time.
But possibly one of the more surprising, if not mundane, tidbits to come out, is that Thursday night is taco night at Alinea. With all the creativity that emerges from that kitchen, the avant garde art that's plated night after night, it's pretty incredible to imagine the chefs who make it happen chowing down to something so simple as a taco in that state-of-the-art kitchen. But it makes them real. But do you want to know Grant Achatz as real? Maybe we do.
· Making Chicago's Top Chef [Tribune]
· All Grant Achatz Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]