The world knows Grant "is-there-any-award-he-hasn't-won" Achatz's cuisine at his world famous restaurant, Alinea, as well as the endless buzz surrounding upcoming projects NEXT and The Aviary. But in his forthcoming memoir, Life, On the Line, we see a new Achatz: a candid portrait interlaced with narration from the chef, documents of Alinea's progress, and perspective from Alinea co-owner and close friend Nick Kokonas.
As promised from the title, we are privy to his life on the line, in a three-part volume, starting with his modest beginnings at his family's restaurant in Michigan; then, his intimidating experience at Charlie Trotter's (an ongoing theme throughout the book); a culinary revelation working his way up at The French Laundry; and the takeover of now-closed Trio and the opening of Alinea.
But it also details another life on the line, with confessionals about his shotgun wedding, subsequent divorce, and learning to fall in love again with current girlfriend Heather Sperling—who supported him through his painful, but miraculous recovery from Stage IVb squamous cell carcinoma. (Basically, it's the source material for a great biopic.)
And for Achatz junkies, we also get to learn a number of new facts about the world famous chef to hold you over until Life, On The Line hits bookshelves on March 3, 2011:
1. Achatz's first "gig" in the kitchen was as a pot washer at his grandmother's restaurant in Marine City, Michigan. With good behavior, he was eventually promoted to chief egg cracker.
2. When he was sixteen, Achatz built his first car himself with his father: A 1970 Pontiac GTO.
3. Achatz was drawn to The French Laundry after reading about the restaurant in the March 1995 issue of Wine Spectator, and then sent a letter everyday to chef Thomas Keller for two weeks until he was offered a two-day tryout.
4. Nick Kokonas writes that he once pulled an all-nighter with an unknown cook before Alinea opened, installing baseboard moldings in hopes of clearing health inspections to meet the May 3 opening deadline.
5. When faced with the possibility of meningitis, Achatz asked the doctor if he could leave to go work after they performed a spinal tap. Really.
Pre-order now on Amazon.