Not only has Achatz made a name for himself as one of the best chefs to ever grace America, but he’s also one of the world’s most renowned chefs. Known for his innovative and contemporary cuisine, he’s earned many awards and accolades over the years.
Grantz Achatz has opened two restaurants and one bar, but his most famous restaurant in Chicago is called Alinea, which was established in 2005. In 2010, it was awarded a 3 Michelin star status, and it has managed to maintain this 3-star status as of 2020. In 2019, his other restaurant, Next, was awarded 1 Michelin star.
Let’s delve further into the life and career of Grant Achatz, including how his restaurant became the only one in Chicago to earn a 3-star rating in the Michelin Guide.
Alinea, Next & Aviary
In 2005, with hard work and determination under his belt, Achatz decided to move out on his own and open a restaurant under his name.
He decided to open Alinea in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago and did so with Nick Kokonas, an American author and restaurant executive who became the co-owner.
Kokonas revealed the meaning behind the interesting name, stating:
“Alinea literally means “off the line.” The restaurant’s symbol, more commonly known as the pilcrow, indicates the beginning of a new train of thought, or literally a new paragraph. There’s a double meaning: On one hand Alinea represents a new train of thought about food, but we are a restaurant, and everything still has to come “off the line”.”
Over the years, the Chicago restaurant has received a wealth of awards and positive feedback. Spanning 2007 to 2017, it received the highest level of recognition from the American Automobile Association (AAA): the AAA Five Diamond Award.
It was declared the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine in 2011, the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2016, and has been awarded the title of Best Restaurant in the United States by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Gourmet Magazine 3 times.
It was in 2010 that Alinea was awarded the prestigious 3-star Michelin status. Just one other restaurant had the same status at the time, L2O, but as of 2019, it is the only restaurant to hold the title.
Achatz didn’t stop there with his culinary ventures. In 2010, he opened an ultra-modern bar called Aviary, and in 2011 he launched Next restaurant – both in Chicago as well.
Next restaurant is known for changing up their cuisine every few months, where Achatz and his executive chef Jenner Tomaska develop the menu and head its changes.
In September 2019, Achatz posted to Instagram in celebration of the restaurant’s first Michelin star:
“Amazing achievement for a shapeshifting restaurant to collect a star. Congrats to the entire team!”
An Aspiring Chef
Grant was born in 1974 on April 25th. He started cooking from a young age and worked at the diner that his parents owned in Michigan.
He soon enrolled at The Culinary Institute of American in New York, graduated in 1994, and began working at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant.
Soon enough, Achatz discovered his mentor: chef Thomas Keller who owns French Laundry.
“The French Laundry was a point in my career where I realized that food could be art, and he [Thomas Keller] really showed us an expressive way to cook, and it became very apparent to me at that point that I could continue that evolution, take it even further,” he once said in relation to his career.
In a 2014 interview, Achatz shared his thoughts on modern cuisine, and where it has changed in relation to traditional French cooking:
“Now, the priorities and the importance reside in the ingredients, the food and the experience; not in opulence, possessions and objects, but in feelings and emotions.”
He added, “This has allowed incredible chefs to offer surprising experiences in a room like this one, which never would have happened before, because there had to be chandeliers or magnificent Bernadotte porcelain, and all those things. Now, all that doesn’t matter; because a chef can create those emotions and experiences with food, without opulence. And I think that gastronomy has really changed. In the United States, we see it constantly.”