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Ten Facts From the Times and Tribune Grant Achatz Profiles

Grant Achatz in the spotlight.
Grant Achatz in the spotlight. Photo: Huge Galdones/Galdones Photography

In a strange bit of timing, two long profiles of Grant Achatz were released simultaneously yesterday in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Both chronicle Achatz’s bout with cancer, his Michelin stars, and his plans for Next and Aviary. While both are utterly fascinating, we’d have to give the edge to hometown reporter Christopher Borrelli. His profile feels a little more personal, as he spent a much longer period of time with Achatz and rounded up an impressive list of food luminaries to interview. Still, you should probably take a look at both when you can find the time. In any case, in the midst of each were little nuggets of information that we’d never heard before about Next and Aviary. Below are our ten favorites.

• While Achatz had always planned on having Next start with a French menu, at first it was going to be a “Paris bistro.” But according to the Times, “the flavors weren’t elegant enough for the opening, Mr. Achatz felt — so he made it harder.” —Times

• They’ve “just decided that Thai food” will be the next adventure in three months. No specific time has been decided, yet. —Times

• Next will seat 62 at one time, but can only accommodate parties of two and four. There will be one chef’s table that can seat six. —Tribune

• Over 15,000 people have signed up to receive e-mail notifications of when tickets are available for Next. —Tribune

• It took about $2.2 million to build Next and Aviary, though that doesn’t include the “million-plus dollars of equipment and discounts that suppliers have lined up to offer him.” —Tribune

• The $100,000 Viking oven ranges were provided at “next to nothing” by the company. In return, Viking got the right to “mention in its marketing that Achatz uses its stoves.” —Tribune

• Both Borrelli and Moskin have ideas of who they’d like to see play Achatz and Nick Kokonas in a biopic. They oddly both agree that a “cleaned up” Robert Downey Jr. should play Kokonas. Borreli thinks Achatz looks like Ethan Hawke, while Moskin goes for Christian Bale.

• However, Borrelli claims that Leonardo DiCaprio is “possibly” going to star as Achatz. —Tribune

• Apparently Thursday night is when the cooks have taco night at Alinea. Borrelli admits that the rice was dry, but he described the pulled pork as “wonderful, succulent tangles of dark, moist pig.” —Tribune

• Borrelli writes that Achatz almost called Charlie Trotter after the Michelin results were announced to say, “Are we even now?” —Tribune

The Perfect Menu. Now Change It. [NYT]
Making Chicago’s top chef [Chicago Tribune]

Ten Facts From the Times and Tribune Grant Achatz Profiles