Grant Achatz was at the top of his profession by the age of 32 when his Chicago restaurant, Alinea, was named the #1 restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Within months, however, his bubble would burst when he learned he had Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma--tongue cancer. The diagnosis couldn't have been worse. At best, doctors told him, he would lose his tongue and the ability to talk and taste, but live for a couple more years. Instead, Achatz opted to do things differently, and better.
Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat is Achatz's candid, compelling, sometimes thrilling account of his love affair with food, his drive to be the best, and his pursuit of a style all his own. Having discovered that style, and then shaped it from the most minute detail into a world-class restaurant, Achatz faces his epic battle with tongue cancer. Despite temporarily losing his ability to taste, Achatz manages to keep working, and with the support of his business partner, Nick Kokonas, and his top-notch staff, maintains the integrity of his business. Within a year of being given a hopeless diagnosis, he is cancer-free and wins the James Beard award for Best Chef in the United States.
Achatz's passion for cooking began in his childhood and never wavered. Life, on the Line offers fascinating behind-the-scenes details of his rapid but purposeful journey from flipping eggs in the window of his grandmother's restaurant to the creation of one of the best restaurants in the world. Even more, however, Achatz lets readers in on the concept-to-reality thought process and will power that it takes not just to succeed and survive but to flourish against all the odds.
Before opening Alinea in 2005, Achatz was sous chef at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and the executive chef of Trio in Chicago. He was named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine in 2002, received the James Beard “Rising Star Chef Award” in 2003, and the James Beard “Outstanding Chef Award” in 2008. In 2008, his cookbook, Alinea, was the #1 selling restaurant book in America and won the James Beard award for “Outstanding Cookbook from a Professional Point of View.”