Grant Achatz, born 1974, started simply: flipping eggs at his parents’ small Michigan restaurant. From there, he leap-frogged to the Culinary Institute of America. Achatz did the Chicago stagier circuit, including a stint at Charlie Trotter’s, followed by a tour of some of Europe’s Michelin-starred restaurants. But it wasn’t until his four-year post under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry that Achatz really hit his stride, learning, as he puts it, “how to cook and how to live life.” Two years in, he was sous chef. During his time there, he took a one-year hiatus from the kitchen to work as an assistant winemaker at La Jota Vineyards. And in 2000, a brief but revelatory stage at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli helped crystallize Achatz’s future as a culinary gamechanger.
At 26, Achatz accepted his first executive chef position at Trio in Evanston, Illinois. Four years at Trio not only earned Achatz plenty of praise, but also the attention of Nick Kokonas, who would become Achatz’s partner in the creation of Alinea. Alinea helped revolutionize the Chicago restaurant scene. It also quickly gained national and international attention, landing on San Pellegrino’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list and reaching the number 7 spot earning Achatz James Beard’s “Outstanding Chef” Award in 2008. He went on to open Aviary, a genre bending cocktail bar with tasting menus which he has replicated in New York at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Here cocktails are inspired by classic NY beverages and served in surpriring receptacles, with much customer interaction. Achatz has also opened Office in DA. Building on that success and innovation, Achatz is planning another much-anticipated project for the Fulton Market neighborhood.
Achatz’s influence has reached beyond the kitchen. In 2010, he wrote his memoir “Life on the Line? He is also the first chef to have introduced the concept of buying tickets to his restaurant in advance.
- Raviolo black truffle broth
- Tempura of prawn yuzu scented pear
- Fried buttermilk and yuzu brined chicken with iceberg lettuce, pickles and sesame sauce in sesame rich bun