Chef interviews

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Thank you

Grant Achatz

Interviewed July 2011

Grant Achatz is chef/owner of Alinea, a restaurant at the cutting edge of modern cooking in Chicago. Thanks to Lara Kastner for permission to use her portrait of Mr Achatz.

Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?

Since I was 5. My mother and father owned family style restaurants since I was four, and before that my grandmother had a small diner that I helped in when I was very young. I worked in my parents restaurant all the way through high school until I graduated and then immediately went to culinary school.

Q – Where did you train to cook?

I attended the Culinary Institute of America in 1994, directly after graduating high school. After that I worked under Thomas Keller at the French Laundry for 4 years. It was here that I found a mentor and really learned to not only cook but run a world class restaurant.

Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?

We call our cooking progressive American.

Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?

Delicious food, great service and to tell a story.

Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

We have a number of dishes that Alinea has been known for, but I do not have a signature dish. The idea is to create what others what know as signature dishes...and then kill them.

Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?


Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?

I love many restaurants of all types. I like crappy pizza, I love el Bulli and Per Se. I like cooking at my house for myself. The idea is I love food, and the beauty of it, the world of food, there are many many opportunities to have a meaningful experience.

What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?

(no answer provided)

What would be your “last request” dish?

A very cold glass of water.

Is there another chef that you most admire?

Thomas Keller

Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?

Be an architect.

Any final thoughts you’d like to add?     


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