Grant Achatz is a chef and restaurateur, often recognized for his contributions to molecular gastronomy or progressive cuisine. His Chicago restaurant Alinea has won numerous accolades, and Achatz himself has won numerous awards from prominent culinary institutions and publications, including the "Rising Star Chef of the Year Award" for 2003, "Best Chef in the United States" for 2008 and a 2012 "Who's Who Inductee" from the James Beard Foundation. His restaurant, Alinea, was named "Best Restaurant in America" by Gourmet Magazine.
After opening, Alinea rapidly garnered top ratings from Mobil, AAA, Zagat, the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, Gayot, and was named to the Top 50 Restaurants in the World by Restaurant Magazine, UK.
In the midst of this unprecedented success, Chef Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV cancer of the tongue. He was informed that if he did not start treatment immediately he would die. Faced with a terminal diagnosis if left untreated, and told by most doctors that treatment would involve removing his tongue, Achatz instead sought a clinical trial at the University of Chicago and endured over 20 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. He lost the ability to taste. He is now cancer free and in full remission.
Achatz grew up in a restaurant family in St. Clair, Mich., working at his parents' side in the family-owned diner from the time he was 12 years old. Early on he realized he wanted to be a chef, and after graduating from high school, he immediately enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America.
Excelling at the C.I.A., Achatz graduated and ascended the culinary ladder at several prestigious restaurants, including Napa Valley's acclaimed The French Laundry. Working closely with Chef Thomas Keller, Achatz thrived in this highly creative, dedicated environment, and after two years rose to the position of sous chef . Two years later, Achatz chose to broaden his knowledge and left The French Laundry to work as an assistant winemaker at the nearby La Jota Vineyards.
In 2001, Achatz accepted the position of executive chef at Trio in Evanston, Ill., where he flourished. His accolades included Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs in America" in 2002 and the James Beard Foundation's "Rising Star Chef in America" in 2003. Under Achatz' leadership, Trio received four stars from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago magazine and garnered five stars from the celebrated Mobil Travel Guide in 2004.
In mid-2004, Achatz partnered with Nick Kokonas to create Alinea. Together they wrote a business plan, created an innovative marketing approach and assembled a team of talented collaborators that would open Alinea on time and on budget just eight months later.
Opening night saw Frank Bruni, head food critic of the New York Times, dining near author Michael Ruhlman, writers from Gourmet Magazine, a host of local press and foodies from around the country. The New York Times Dining Section opined that Alinea's "milestone" opening "boldly raise[d] the stakes."
In addition to Alinea, Grant and his business partner Nick Kokonas conceived Next, a restaurant that uses a unique ticketing system in Chicago. Next opened in 2011, earning immediate praise. Reservations for Achatz's restaurant, are so sought after, that tickets could be purchased for up to $500 per person.
Alinea, Next and Chef Achatz have continued to receive international attention for the hypermodern, emotionally engaging approach Achatz brings to dining. Since its opening, Alinea has been one of the world's most scrutinized and heralded restaurants, featured in hundreds of magazines and newspapers and on thousands of websites. Achatz, meanwhile, has become a fixture of television shows and awards ceremonies, and through his perseverance, candor, and tenacity has become inspiration beyond the culinary world.
In 2016 Achatz and his team launched two consecutive multi-week pop-up experiences in Madrid, Spain, and Miami, Florida, over the course of Alinea’s closure.
In 2016, Achatz appeared on season two of the Netflix series Chef’s Table. In 2018, Achatz appeared as a judge on the Netflix series The Final Table.
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