Last week, Eater got an email from Grant Achatz inviting us to join him at his fairly intimate release party for his autobiography Life, on the Line, which currently sits at No. 40 on Amazon's best seller list and No. 8 on the memoirs list. The party took place Thursday night at the Thomas Masters Gallery in Old Town with about 150 or so friends, family (including Achatz's parents) and lucky fans who were able to purchase a ticket.
We told you the Laurent Perrier Champagne would flow and that Avenues' chef Curtis Duffy would provide the food. What we didn't know was that Achatz's business partner, Nick Kokonas, had a little surprise up his sleeve.
Around 8:45 p.m., Kokonas asked everyone to move into the gallery's large back room for a presentation. First he spoke. Then Achatz. Then the publisher of Gotham Books, which printed the autobiography. Then Kokonas announced he had found a picture, which turned out to be Achatz—with quite an impressive mullet from his teenage days in Michigan—sitting in front of the cherry red 1970 GTO he built with his dad.
The building of the car is chronicled in the book and, in our opinion, sets the groundwork for the drive and determination Achatz would demonstrate on his climb to owning the No. 1 restaurant in North America. But that's not where this ends. Around Christmas last year, Kokonas asked Achatz's dad about what happened to the car. A cousin had it, he said. So Kokonas bought the beat-up neglected car, complete with a wasp nest and rat skeletons, and had a team of guys restore it; he then had it pulled up outside the gallery as a gift to Achatz, who was visibly moved and seemed fairly speechless upon seeing it. We have the video.