** The Chef I chose is: Grant Achatz **
Culinary Food Science Research Paper
Throughout the course of culinary history there have been many chef’s, scientists, nutritionists, and even chemists that have contributed greatly to the advancement of “Food Technologies.” These people, whether through their culinary innovations or scientific discoveries have greatly impacted the world of cooking by creating flavors, safer food, and food that can be healthier for us to eat. Some of these discoveries can be so big that they have impacted or affected the entire world. For instance the discovery of the method for Pasteurizing milk by, of course, Louis Pasteur. This one innovation changed the world’s milk production and distribution systems forever. It brought milk to the masses and allowed it to last longer and safer to drink for all.
For this paper you are to pick an innovator in the culinary world. (I chose Grant Achatz) A chef, nutritionist, scientist or even a software mogul that decided to study the science of food. Write a small biography of that person. Then write about one of the discoveries or innovations that they have contributed to the culinary world. In that research you should discuss the driving force that led to that discovery, how or what the process was that occurred to make the innovation and then discuss the impact of the innovation on the culinary world as well as the rest of the world or region that may be affected by it. Then, if you wish, write how this innovation/discovery may have impacted you or your peers in your personal development as a chef.
This paper should be around 5 pages and require research into the field of the innovation/discovery as well as the short biography of the person that is behind it. Please do not rely on Wikipedia. You are welcome to interview local chefs or instructors to get their thoughts on the impact of the individual your are writing about.
World-famous chef Grant Achatz had a very humble beginning: he used to flip eggs at a little restaurant in Michigan owned by his family. He received his degree in culinary sciences from the Culinary Institute of America. Fresh out of university, he joined the Chicagoan stagier circuit, was employed for some time with Charlie Trotter’s, and went on to serve at a few Michelin-starred European eateries (Starchefs, 2014).
However, it was only during his 4-year-long service with The French Laundry, where he was supervised by Thomas Keller, that his creativity flourished and he learned to actually cook and live a hearty life. After a couple of years with the restaurant, he was promoted to the sous chef position. In those days, he even broke away from cooking for a year to serve as a La Jota Vineyard assistant winemaker. The turn of the millennium saw him working for a short but revelatory period at El Bulli (FerranAdria’s restaurant) which fortified his role as a leader in the American culinary sector (Starchefs, 2014).
At a fairly young twenty-six year of age, he was well-equipped to cook independently and was awarded his foremost executive chef post at Evanston’s Trio. In his four years of service there, he enjoyed considerable praise and was noticed by Nick Kokonas, with whom he founded his Chicago-based restaurant, Alinea. The restaurant swiftly attained nationwide as well as global acclaim, winning the 2008 James Beard award for “Outstanding Chef” for Achatz and featuring on the San Pelligrino list of top 50 restaurants in the world. His creativity was praised and mimicked throughout the nation and everyone waited eagerly for his Aviary and Next. Achatz aims to further his creativity and success via yet another eagerly awaited project targeted at Fulton Market (Starchefs, 2014).
Achatz’s influence isn’t limited only to the kitchens. He is the co-author of Life, on the Line, his memoir published in the year 2010. He collaborated with the Harvard Applied Sciences and Engineering School for a lecture series on Science and Cooking, and featured in Spinning Plates, a Joseph Levy documentary (Starchefs, 2014).
Chefs have ventured into the realm of labs, utilizing ingredients, machines and procedures earlier focused on only by industrial food producers and biology researchers. Achatz is clearly the most successful American chef in terms of his well-balanced appealing and weird tastes, owing, perhaps, to his intensive internship under Keller (Kummer, 2007). Labeled one among the most creative chefs worldwide, his Alinea restaurant proves his leadership status in the innovative molecular cooking style (Price, 2016). The meals he whips up resemble abstract sculptures; the chef is known for integrating tastes and textures akin to how artists combine hues and shapes. A case of tongue cancer in 2007 left Achatz finding all foods tasteless. His recovery was like a reawakening; he could again, gradually, identify old and novel flavors (Price, 2016).
The Aviary’s greatest innovation occurs “backstage”. The bartenders aren’t required to take customers’ orders, ready ingredients, wash used glasses, etc. Rather, the workplace is set up as four stations, at which individual bartenders make five drinks. Akin to restaurant kitchens, an expediter supervises order flow and individual drinks prior to sending them to customers’ tables. Achatz believes in eliminating the old to create the new, radically. The year 2015 was the best recorded year for Alinea, with daily bookings throughout. But rather than banking on this success, the chef closed it down for 6 months for a total renovation. The new restaurant is nothing like the old. Upon entry into the restaurant, diners are directed to a shared table to try the initial courses with complete strangers, making them uncomfortable. It is a great relief to them when they finally get their own independent table (Price, 2016).
Achatz’s imagination and originality has brilliantly shaped his basic-themed eatery’s whole décor, right from its unembellished wooden tables to its hi-tech computer-operated lighting to its floating staircase, all of which are staged perfectly in a pattern that generates a breath-taking ambiance for clients. Even the utensil designs have a whole new look and are unique and beautiful, created by Martin Kastner, the renowned designer (Kummer, 2007).
Grant Achatz isn’t one to mimic others. His brands portray uniqueness and creativity, in addition to the devotion of a great deal of meticulousness and precision. Achatz is not only careful with his commercial and food related decisions, he handles the media expertly as well. His words to them are carefully chosen and passionately delivered. This master chef creates for his clients whatever they desire to experience. It is his serious view that every evening revolves around passion, which may be experienced wholly by anyone who visits his restaurant. Right from the start, customers are expected to wholeheartedly accept that. However, his vision doesn’t stagnate. He immediately jumps to another night of unique service, another day, another project, rather than ruminating over past projects. His passion ensures he is ever-progressing (Mandel, 2012).
A molecular gastronomy specialist, Achatz ensures customers are able to enjoy inventive, fresh concoctions which suit their tastes and needs. Less than a year into its launch, Alinea earned Gourmet’s best American restaurant award. It is also unique with regard to its simple, bar-free, lobby-free setting. Alinea is just a little space with a 64-diner capacity (Price, 2016).
Achatz believes his team endeavors to feed emotion and nostalgia to diners. Their aim is: ensuring clients experience their meal as more than just that: a meal at Alinea is a witness to an art, a memory, a performance. Customers’ dining experience at Alinea is enriched with ideas and visual cues beginning with the sounds, sights and scents they are exposed to. All elements of Achatz’s tasting menu intend to complement, challenge, and support earlier courses, ending up surprising diners and, equally, making them nostalgic. Achatz has effectively made childhood fantasies (spun sugared balloons full of helium and apple) eatable; a combination of an ephemeral fantasy, science, and art (Sundarsingh, 2016).
Beginning with his excellent performance at the Culinary Institute of America, Grant Achatz swiftly scaled the rungs of the cookery ladder with his services at a number of leading restaurants, including Napa Valley’s famous French Laundry. In close collaboration with tutor Thomas Keller, he flourished in the advanced, rigorous and innovative atmosphere provided by the restaurant, rising to the sous chef post in a couple of years. After serving for four years here, he broadened his knowledge base, serving as La Jota Vineyards’ assistant winemaker. The new millennium saw him at an executive chef post, at Trio, where he achieved great success, as evidenced by the awards he won when working here: Food & Wine’s 2002 Ten Best New American Chefs award and the 2003 James Beard American “Rising Star Chef” award. The Achatz-headed Trio earned five stars in 2004 from the Mobil Travel Guide, while the Chicago magazine and Chicago Tribune awarded it four stars. Recognized across the globe among culinary experts as an avant-garde movement trailblazer, Achatz’s lifelong dream was the establishment of his Chicagoan Alinea, a restaurant which enjoyed exceptional focus right from its opening day and earned a nomination for James Beard’s Best New American Restaurant (Starchefs, 2014).
Kummer, C. (2007, January 01). The Alchemist. Retrieved from MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/407090/the-alchemist/
Mandel, L. S. (2012, June 20). 30 Minutes With Chef Grant Achatz: The Mind Behind the Best Restaurant in the World. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lauren-shapiro/30-minutes-with-chef-gran_1_b_1437548.html
Price, T. (2016, July 12). Chef Grant Achatz, Tales of the Cocktail’s keynote speaker, on the constant push to change. Retrieved from NOLA: http://www.nola.com/dining/index.ssf/2016/07/chef_grant_achatz_tales_of_the.html
Starchefs. (2014, August). Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea – Biography. Retrieved from Star Chefs: https://www.starchefs.com/cook/chefs/bio/grant-achatz
Sundarsingh, A. (2016, July 22). Grant Achatz is a Culinary Beethoven. Retrieved from Medium Corporation: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/grant-achatz-is-a-culinary-beethoven-f440c264902e#.u369wemty