"One of America's great chefs" ("Vogue") shares how his drive to cook immaculate food won him international renown-and fueled his miraculous triumph over tongue cancer.
In 2007, chef Grant Achatz seemingly had it made. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by "Food & Wine" in 2002, received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2003, and in 2005 he and Nick Kokonas opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by "Gourmet" magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world's culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer.
The prognosis was grim, and doctors agreed the only course of action was to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his entire tongue. Desperate to preserve his quality of life, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. But the choice came at a cost. Skin peeled from the inside of Grant's mouth and throat, he rapidly lost weight, and most alarmingly, he lost his sense of taste. Tapping into the discipline, passion, and focus of being a chef, Grant rarely missed a day of work. He trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest: The food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free, and just a few months following, he received the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in America Award.
"Life, on the Line" tells the story of a culinary trailblazer's love affair with cooking, but it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship. Already much- anticipated by followers of progressive cuisine, Grant and Nick's gripping narrative is filled with stories from the world's most renowned kitchens-The French Laundry, Charlie Trotter's, el Bulli- and sure to expand the audience that made "Alinea" the number-one selling restaurant cookbook in America last year.
Watch a Video
About the Author
Grant Achatz is the owner of Alinea, Next and The Aviary in Chicago. He lives in Chicago.
Nick Kokonas partnered with Grant Achatz to develop Alinea, Next and The Aviary. He lives with his wife and two sons in Chicago.
"This must-read for the culinary crowd is the literary equivalent of caviar and Krug. Foodies will marvel at Achatz's thought process on his molecular creations, while Kokonas provides a detailed glimpse of the artistic vision and creation of modern fine dining."
Praise for Grant Achatz and Alinea:
"Grant Achatz is aggressively pushing inventive cuisine forward, forcing the rest of the country's toque-heads to keep pace."
"Mr. Achatz is like a ringmaster running a highly sophisticated and technically accomplished cirque de cuisine."
-Wall Street Journal
"Grant Achatz is redefining the American restaurant once again for an entirely new generation."
"Grant Achatz at Alinea comes up with creations that aren't just cutting-edge---they're also absolutely delicious."
-Food & Wine
"Is chef Grant Achatz a mad scientist or a culinary maestro? A few hours spent in his posh dining room in Lincoln Park suggests he is both."
"Grant Achatz is one of America's great chefs."
"Alinea is a thrill ride of a dining experience, one that leaves you exhilarated, spent and eager for more."
"Grant Achatz's brilliance and maturing sensibility are on display in this elegant two-story haven--and the experience is every bit as dramatic as at the theatre neighbors."