Grant Achatz Lays Down the Law

Though often regarded as a genius and the head of the best restaurant in the country, Grant Achatz is not often regarded as a tough ass. But two events happened this weekend at Alinea which showed his no-nonsense side. First, he kicked a kid who was under 21 out of the restaurant because he lied about his age (“He claimed 21 at table. Carded. “Forget ID”. Auto ejection“). And then, he took on a blogger named Doug who wrote a post in Fuchs Foodie Journal which claimed that Achatz had angrily told him not to take pictures of the food. Achatz took to Twitter: “There is no chance that I EVER told anyone to put their camera away. Ever. Doug, why would you lie about this?” And then he systematically disproved that Doug ever visited the restaurant. Don’t mess with Grant Achatz this week.

Ever since Achatz wrote about the conflict of people taking an excessive number of pictures during a meal, he has been misquoted as saying he is against anyone who takes pictures of food at Alinea. But he never actually said that. On Fuchs Foodie Journal, numerous people came to his defense to talk about recent experiences where they were allowed to take pictures. Achatz also commented denying that the story happened and asked Doug when he had actually visited. On Twitter, Achatz noted the the restaurant had no proof that Doug ever visited the restaurant. Later that day the offending post was taken down.

Looks like a food blogger just wanted to stir the pot a bit without realizing how responsive Achatz would be to the claim. Taking the post down obviously proves that he can’t stand by his word. Luckily, we were able to track down the offending post which have copied below.

At five-star Alinea in Chicago, a waiter presents the signature dish, black truffle explosion, and my jaw drops like a shaggy 13 year old kid in the front row at Nirvana’s Pacific Rim Tour circa 1992. I instinctively grab my camera to capture the moment, but Grant Achatz, the famous avant-garde chef and one my culinary idols, struts to the table and angrily tells me to put it away.

It’s an ugly scene played out with increasing frequency at Alinea and other trendy eateries like Craft and Momofuku Ko. Check out this NPR story to learn more:

Can you believe the ingratitude of celebrity chefs to snarl when their fans simply attempt to honor their art with a photograph? As a food blogger, I should be incensed.

To the contrary, I eat this up. I believe that most foodies share my boredom with the accommodating approach of today’s rockstar chefs. Rockstars are supposed to be intriguing bad boys, not Pepsi poster-boys. If they are truly artists, they will entertain us with more self-destructive, anti-social behavior. Less Iron Chef, more Iron Maiden. Achatz shouldn’t just tell me to put my camera away; he should earn those tattoos and shatter it. I would no sooner get upset with Kurt Cobain for giving me the middle finger.

Grant Achatz Lays Down the Law