Grant Achatz’s unique approach on gastronomy
Stepped into the world of fine dining with Alinea, one of America’s most creative restaurants, with unusual product matching and modern cooking techniques, Grant Achatz today is one of the first names that comes to mind when you hear about molecular gastronomy.
Achatz, who has been in restaurants since childhood, began his career working at his family’s restaurant in Michigan. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1994, he took his first steps to professional kitchens alongside Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller after that. Grant Achatz emphasizes that the time he spent with Thomas Keller in the French Laundry was invaluable for him: “I wanted to be Thomas Keller and I was dedicated to learning how to cook like him.”
Back in Chicago in 2001, he became the chef of Trio restaurant, earning national fame in a short period of time. He was named one of the best young chefs in 2002 by Food & Wine. Achatz’s devotion and passion for food began to bear fruit in a very short period of time and the Trio restaurant became one of the 13 restaurants rated with 5 stars by Mobil Travel Guide.
Opening Alinea in 2005 with Nick Kokonas, make him a global star. The process, which started with the Best Restaurant in America Award by Gourmet Magazine, continued with many international awards and accomplishment such as 21st place on World’s 50 Best List and 3 Michelin star.
Achatz has also appeared in the kitchen documentaries such as Spinnig Plates and Netlflix’s Chef’s Table, Lately became the US representative of The Final Table again with Netflix.
The renowned chef is also at the head of NEXT, a restaurant that offers an unusual experience, always serving a variety of alternated themes and concepts from vegand to steak-house.
To create dishes that combine the content in a smart and harmonious way in Alinea, which usually offers a 17 to 19 course tasting menu, Achatz uses a technique called flavor bouncing, that allows them to create interesting, original and, most importantly, delicious flavor matches.
One of the best examples of creative pairings is the ‘Lamb 86’ that you can find in Alinea’s menu. Achatz and his executive chef at the time, Mike Bagale, created a plate of taste and aesthetic, a meal made from 86 different ingredients, alongside the lamb, providing spicy, sour, fat and even sweet harmonies.
"Lamb 86" from Alinea's unusual menu
Achatz calls his cuisine “progressive American.” In a recent interview with the Institute of Culinary Education, he explained what that means: “Progressive being the utilization of cutting-edge technique and the exploration of creativity. And American being eclectic ingredients and regional items, and more of a global melting pot of cuisine styles.”