By 2007, chef Grant Achatz had already achieved the kind of success that most chefs only dream of. He had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002 and 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.
About the author:
Grant Achatz is the multiple award-winning chef and owner of Alinea in Chicago. He was named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, he received the James Beard Rising Star Chef award in 2003; the Best Chef/Great Lakes award in 2007; and the top honor, Outstanding Chef in the United States, in 2008. Before opening Alinea in 2005, Achatz was sous chef at The French Laundry and the executive chef of Trio in Chicago. He has written for Gourmet and The New York Times Diner’s Journal and is a columnist for The Atlantic’s Food Channel. He lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his girlfriend and two sons, Kaden and Keller. He is author or co-author of:
- Life, on the line.
Nick Kokonas partnered with Grant Achatz in 2005 to develop Alinea, where he remains actively engaged in its strategy, marketing, and planning. He lives with his wife and two sons in Chicago.
The authors are currently developing Next and The Aviary in Chicago.
“What is amazing to me, a writer who’s been covering this industry since about the time Grant arrived at The French Laundry, is the honesty and jarring frankness with which Grand and Nick write, from every angle – personal, emotional, even financial. Grant’s career, the opening of Alinea, his beating cancer – it’s a hell of a story”. Michael Ruhlman, author of Ratio and The soul of a chef.
“This is not the cancer story in which the disease makes the guy realize he needs to stop focusing on his work and finally spend time with his two young sons, see his parents more, and reconnect with his former sweetheart. No, this is the cancer story that makes a man realize that his screaming ambition was right the whole time and that if he had only a month to live, he’d better get some stuff done”. Joel Stein, Time.
“Grant Achatz is redefining the American restaurant once again for an entirely new generation”. Gourmet.
“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”. The Washington Post.
“Mr. Achatz is like a ringmaster running a highly sophisticated and technically accomplished cirque de cuisine”. The Wall Street Journal.