Zimmern On Achatz

As you undoubtedly already know, Grant Achatz is the chef at Alinea, and Alinea is one of the most-lauded restaurants in the country, if not the world. They also have a cookbook coming out soon (watch this space for some extremely awesome upcoming MP exclusives on that matter).

Andrew Zimmern has an interview with Grant Achatz up today, misleadingly titled “5 Questions with Grant Achatz” — in reality it’s (we’re counting, hang on…) thirteen. No matter how many, they’re good.

While we get some tantalizing insights (Achatz has a weak spot for Potbelly Sandwich Works!), Zimmern has a hard time pulling juicy gossip out. Ever diplomatic and articulate, here’s what Achatz says when asked about his “top three kitchen experiments gone wrong”:

Well, we try things all of the time that simply don’t work. We spent a while trying to make snow, to see if freezing various flavored liquids by spraying them into a chamber and allowing them to crystallize like snow does would produce a unique texture. We worked with Philip Preston at Polyscience on this and he rigged up a few different experiments that became increasingly elaborate and large. We made something that approximated snow, but we have not produce anything unique or worthwhile… yet. But all of our failures are temporary in some fashion… we just look at them as ongoing experiments that often lead to some place we did not expect.

We have been trying to blow a balloon from soft sugar, like caramel for about 6 years to no avail. And then there was the ill-fated concept of a lamb with charcoal crust. But really the guests never see the failures. We are very careful of self-editing ourselves. We know when a dish is menu ready.

And for anyone out there who wants to live like a chef, here’s exactly what’s in Achatz’s fridge:

To be specific…Ketchup, eggs, champagne, pickles, a moldy lemon, yogurt (likely spoiled as I can’t remember when I bought it), mustard (whole grain), capers, mayonnaise, and two sprigs of rosemary, grape jelly and three bottles of Evian.

5 Questions with Grant Achatz [Andrew Zimmern]
Alinea [MenuPages]
Alinea [Official Site]

[Photo: Achatz in the Alinea kitchen, via Stu Spivack’s Flickr]


Zimmern On Achatz