After months of anticipation, leaks, and endless press, Grant Achatz’s Life, on the Line was officially released yesterday. To celebrate, he and co-author Nick Kokonas participated in a lively book discussion at the Harold Washington Library, and then hosted a release party at an art gallery in Old Town. It was a pleasant way to release one of the most anticipated chef memoirs of the year, but it only became truly interesting when Kokonas took the mic at the gallery and revealed that he had a surprise for the chef. One of the most riveting passages in the book occurs when Achatz describes the process of building a GTO from scratch with his dad, but over the years the car had been neglected and forgotten. Kokonas tracked down the car, had it completely rebuilt by a custom shop, and presented it to a shocked Achatz.
The car had been exposed to the weather for years, and nearly every part of it had to be replaced. It wasn’t quite ready to roll, and still needed a few more days of work, but the vast majority of the work had been completed in a rushed 60 day period. As you can probably tell from the above picture, Achatz seemed genuinely happy.
Of course, this being a Grant Achatz event, the food was a little more spectacular than your average Hors d’œuvre spread. Friend and former colleague, Curtis Duffy helped create the menu along with his crew from Avenues. It’s kind of impossible to fully explain every dish, as each had fifteen or so different components. But let’s just say there were vanilla bean lollipops cooked on an anti-griddle. Perhaps the best way is to just let you see the pictures. So, please take a look at the full slideshow of the event below.