The molecular gastronomy maestro talks about cooking with Thomas Keller, the downside of celebrity-chef status and his favorite cheap comfort foods
Situated in an unassuming building on the outskirts of downtown Chicago, Alinea has become a culinary mecca for world gastronomes. The American den of molecular gastronomy boasts a $225, 25-course menu that can last upwards of three hours, and awards such as Best Restaurant by Gourmet magazine.
At the center of the hype is chef Grant Achatz, who was diagnosed with tongue cancer in July 2007 and went into remission last December. Over the past year, Mr. Achatz, 34 years old, has put the return of his taste buds, which he temporarily lost to radiation and chemotherapy, to good work. In October, he released his first cookbook, "Alinea," a 416-page molecular gastronomy guide, filled with vivid photographs and recipes. And he just wrapped a three-date cross-country cooking tour with Thomas Keller, whom he studied under at Mr. Keller's renowned French Laundry in Napa.
The Wall Street Journal Online spoke with Mr. Achatz, who won the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef award this year, about the making of his book, his hesitations to expand and how the economy has affected his business.
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