Cutting Edge

People approach Alinea restaurant’s newest serveware piece The lobby of the Museum of Contemporary Art looks like the set of the fictional “Saturday Night Live” show “Sprockets.” A gaggle of Dieter clones, men and women clothed head to toe in beatnik black, are being briefed on their responsibilities for hosting tonight’s Food and Wine entertaining showcase. The rest of the foyer is a chambered nautilus of rope line enclosing a group of broad-shouldered men and impossibly tall and coltish women. Sprinkled in among the Rush Street glitterati are amply girthed men and sturdy women, intrepid foodies, whose only interest in glamour skews toward the culinary creations waiting on the chef’s tables a floor above. Tonight they will witness the birth of a serveware piece. Advertisements


The Real Thing

In 1982, Sheridan Morley, a critic for the UK’s Spectator magazine said, Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” “was the one (play) that first showed us Stoppard has a heart as well as a head.”  If you’re the kind of person who applauds Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage, you’d probably agree.

Grant Achatz

Great chefs don’t bow to economic pressure and buy substandard product, poorly sauce plates, or overcook protein when the weeds are high. They adhere to their principles and an idea of quality no matter the consequence. Great chefs work clean, treat the mincing of rosemary, the segmenting of citrus, and the sweeping of the floor with the same importance as writing a menu and inventing a new dish. Great chefs are always in the moment. Chef Rick Tramonto once told me that Charlie Trotter’s philosophy was that “If everyone in the restaurant came in and did one thing better than they did the day before, then you’d have 50 people doing one thing better each day.” That’s a powerful message and it’s ultimately the hallmark that great chefs strive to do each day better than the one before. Grant Achatz is one of those chefs. Achatz’s restaurant Alinea was recently named the #1 restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine for many of the reasons outlined above. In this podcast Achatz talks about what it means to be committed to a vision of constant evolution, perfecting something, throwing it away, and starting again. We also talk about customer expectations, why molecular…

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This Cow Don’t Moo

I like it animal style–my burger that is. Whenever I get off the plane in L.A., I go straight to the nearest In-N-Out Burger and order up a mustard-cooked beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, extra “spread” and grilled onions, or as it’s billed on In-N-Out’s “secret menu”–“animal style.” (The secret menu, which is actually available on the Web site, is the worst-kept secret since Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s White House tryst.)

Tapeworm Tour 2006

Shanghai Lumpia from Uni-Mart For the last three years, I’ve woken up on an October Sunday to constant wailing, throbbing drumbeats and clanging cowbells. Somehow my realtor forgot to mention that my condo was located right off the Chicago Marathon course.