Chef Bios: Grant Achatz

One of Chicago's culinary masters
Grant Achatz
Wikimedia Commons/John

Grant Achatz

Despite his young age of 36, Grant Achatz has been continually noted for his contributions to the evolving culinary style of molecular gastronomy and become one of the most recognized faces in new American cuisine. 

Grant Achatz was born and raised in a small town in Michigan. His first experiences with food include short-order cooking in the kitchen of his parents' diner as a child. After earning a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, Achatz began a brief stage at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. Next, Achatz he to work with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in California, where Keller became a close mentor. After his time at The French Laundry and a year working at La Jota Vineyards in the winery, Keller encouraged Achatz to stage at Ferran Adrià's restaurant, El Bulli. Achatz regards this as a one of the "watershed moments" in his career.

At 26, Achatz, who had never worked as a chef before, was hired to run the kitchen at Trio, a four-star restaurant in Evanston, IL. At Trio, Achatz met Nick Kokonas, who would later become his partner. After a three-year run, Achatz left Trio to open Alinea with Kokonas in 2005. In July of 2007, Achatz was diagnosed with Stage IV tongue cancer. After seeking extensive treatment, Achatz announced that he was cancer-free in October, 2007.

Alinea has garnered many awards including a five-star award from the Mobil Travel Guide, and Best Restaurant in America from Gourmet Magazine in 2006. Achatz has also earned many awards, including Outstanding Chef from the James Beard Foundation in 2008. His cookbook, Alinea, was published in 2008. 

Culinary Style: Molecular Gastronomy
Restaurant:  Alinea
Signature Dish: Hot Potato: Cold Potato
Did You Know? During radiation treatment in 2007, Achatz briefly lost his sense of taste and had to rely primarily on his sense of smell while creating new dishes.