WBEZ | Alinea http://www.wbez.org/tags/alinea Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Do kids belong out late in adult restaurants? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/do-kids-belong-out-late-adult-restaurants-110053 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/kideatingflickreyeliam.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A man and a wife and their kid walk into a restaurant bar. The host looks at them and says &lsquo;we&rsquo;re not seating couples with children at this time.&rsquo; So the sad family packs up and finds some place else to eat.</p><p>This was the decidedly unfunny scenario faced by two Chicago area parents recently when they tried to eat at one of their favorite restaurants. They asked that we leave out their names because they&rsquo;d like dine there again--when they find a babysitter, of course.</p><p>Many thought that&rsquo;s what the parents of the, now notorious, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2014%2F01%2F14%2Falinea-baby-controversy_n_4597643.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHaDxp6rRcCH8vlSewdC4R_RD01ig">Alinea baby</a> should have done earlier this year, when their child&rsquo;s dining room crying was heard around the world---thanks to a perplexed tweet by chef Grant Achatz on the matter.</p><p>Still, for many parents, including former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, the issue is not so cut and dried.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it depends on the kid,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;If you are a parent who goes out with your child and your kid starts fussing, you take the child out. That&rsquo;s all there is to it. It&#39;s that easy. But I would be deeply offended if I took my child to a restaurant and I was told no you can&rsquo;t come in.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Hopleaf Bar owner Michael Roper has enforced a no-kids rule at his establishment for nearly a decade. He believes the city needs places where grown-ups can enjoy grown-up drinks--for example, his wide selection of craft beers that happen to pair beautifully with his menu of sausages, seafood and smoked meat.<br />.<br />&ldquo;We are a bar. We call ourselves the Hopleaf Bar,&rdquo; Roper recently said on WBEZ. &ldquo;There are places that are bar-like but they are more like restaurants. It&rsquo;s not as if there&rsquo;s no place else to go with your kid. There are a lot of places and many of those places the kids actually prefer.&rdquo;</p><p>But does he ever get grief from customers over the rule?</p><p>&ldquo;We get some pushback but it&rsquo;s surprising,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We actually get mostly support, even from parents with children. They like to have a place to go. Sometimes people need to have an adult space.&rdquo;<br /><br />Mei-Ling Hopgood is a Chicago area mom who raised her oldest child in Buenos Aires. In her book &ldquo;How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm&rdquo; Hopgood details her initial shock at what seemed like crazy hours for kids to be in restaurants in Argentina.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;It would be 11 or 12 o&rsquo;clock and they&rsquo;d be running around the pizzeria or the grill,&rdquo; she recently said on WBEZ&rsquo;s Worldview. &ldquo;It was an extension of the cultures from which they came--Spain and Italy where people just eat later and the idea that you would not eat dinner with your child is really unthinkable in many ways.&rdquo;</p><p>Those kinds of careening children may be exactly what some restaurants are trying to avoid with the no-kid rules says a former server Cindy who called into WBEZ&rsquo;s Worldview saying, &ldquo;They would run circles around my legs when I would have hot trays of food.&rdquo;</p><p>Dining veteran Reichl says that she can see both sides of the issue and that there may be a simple solution.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;In an ideal world, restaurants would have an area for children and all the people would bring their children and the children would go off and there would be someone to watch them and the kids would have a great time together,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Because, really, a five-year-old doesn&rsquo;t want to listen to your boring conversation.&rdquo;</p><p>So Chuck E Cheese meets Alinea? Who knows? It just might work.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/do-kids-belong-out-late-adult-restaurants-110053 Culture Catalyst: Martin Kastner of Alinea http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 <p><p>Learn about sculptor <strong>Martin Kastner</strong>&rsquo;s serviceware concepts that helped put Alinea and Chef <strong>Grant Achatz</strong> at the pinnacle of contemporary cuisine.</p><div>Martin Kastner is the founder and principal of Crucial Detail. Kastner, born in the Czech Republic, trained as a blacksmith and spent some time restoring historical metalworks at a castle in Western Bohemia before moving onto natural materials design and sculpture. He founded Crucial Detail in 1998 shortly after his arrival in the U.S. He is best known for his Alinea serviceware concepts, which landed him on The Future Laboratory&rsquo;s list of 100 most influential individuals in contemporary design. Alinea book, which he designed in collaboration with Naissance Inc., was one of the winners in</div><div>2009 Communication Arts Design Annual for Best Book Design and is included in Altitude&rsquo;s <em>The Best of Cover Design</em>. His work has been featured in numerous publications running the gamut from Gourmet to Fast Company.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MCA-webstory_19.gif" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div>Recorded live on March 12, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art.</div></p> Tue, 12 Mar 2013 11:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/amplified/about/culture-catalyst-martin-kastner-alinea-106878 Grant Achatz: The chef who couldn't taste http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-29/grant-achatz-chef-who-couldnt-taste-91176 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-29/insert-2.6_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A typical 23-course meal at Chicago's Alinea restaurant might include olive oil lollypops, sweet potatoes skewered by smoking cinnamon sticks, strips of bacon hanging from a stainless steel bow, and pheasant tempura-fried with apple cider, impaled on a flaming oak leaf.</p><p><a href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/">Alinea</a>, which opened in 2005, was named the best restaurant in America by <em>Gourmet Magazine</em> in 2006. The restaurant's co-founder and head chef, Grant Achatz, is one of the leading members of the molecular gastronomy movement, which uses unexpected flavor combinations and exotic laboratory tools to create foods based on the molecular compatibility of ingredients.</p><p>"What makes the food that we do at Alinea so interesting on the outside is that we really don't let ourselves say no to an idea," Achatz says. "When we start looking at things really critically or even very simply, we realize that there's more than one way to actually get the same results ... You're deconstructing the components of a course and putting them back together."</p><p>Playing with unexpected flavors and scents plays a big part in Achatz's kitchen. Some of Alinea's dishes are served alongside a pillow case with tiny holes in it, designed to release certain fragrances while diners eat.</p><p>"We've done firewood ashes, we've done leather, we've done grass," says Achatz. "There's a lot of smells that you can't necessarily consume. You're not going to go out and chew on a baseball glove. But, in a lot of ways, a lot of smells that aren't necessarily edible smell good, and they remind you of certain aspects of food. So making those associations with what smells good or smells a certain way and pairing that with actual edible ingredients is one avenue that we take creatively."</p><p>In 2007, Achatz lost his own ability to taste. He was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer, which metastasized to both sides of his neck. His surgeons told him they were going to cut out his tongue and replace it with muscle from another part of his body. With the surgery, Achatz only had a 50 percent chance of surviving beyond two years. But, he says, he was even more afraid of losing his ability to taste and eat.</p><p>"I lived my whole life in the kitchen," he says. "Not only that, but it's the passion, it's the love for cooking and food. It's dictated my entire life — every aspect of it. So, in some ways, the thought of not being able to do that anymore radically affects your life."</p><p>Achatz found a clinical trial at the University of Chicago that agreed to treat him with radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation treatments burned his tongue, shed the lining of his esophagus — and completely destroyed his taste buds.</p><p>"It was very strange to not be able to discern any flavor at all," he says. "It's funny because, clearly, you know you have to eat to live. But even knowing that, for me, there was no reason to eat. I had no interest in eating whatsoever. I would put something in my mouth — say a vanilla milkshake — and it tasted like nothing."</p><p>Achatz's cancer is now in remission. After his treatment ended, his ability to taste came back — but slowly. His perception of different flavor combinations — sweet, salty, bitter — came back one flavor at a time.</p><p>"I started from zero, and the first thing back was sweet," he says. "So my palate developed just as a newborn — but I was 32 years old. So I could understand how flavors were coming back and how they synergized together. ... It was very educational for me. I don't recommend it, but I think it made me a better chef because now I really understand how flavor works."</p><p>Achatz was named Best Chef in America in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. He is the author of two books, the memoir <em>Life, on the Line</em> and the coffee table-style cookbook <em>Alinea</em>. His new restaurant, Next, completely changes its food and style every few months — allowing Achatz to experiment with different ethnic cuisines and periods in time.</p><p><strong>On Intimidating Dishes</strong></p><p>"Some of the courses served at Alinea are meant to intimidate because, if you think about eating, we do it two, three, four times a day since we're born, basically. And the act of eating — the mechanics of eating — become very monotonous. So literally you're either picking up a fork, a spoon, and you're eating from a plate or bowl with the same motion every time. So if we can break that monotony, then we get you to take notice of the moment, and now you're thinking about the food. It's making you feel a certain way. Then we've won."</p><p><strong>On slowing people down so they taste their food</strong></p><p>"Alinea is not the type of restaurant where you go if you're in a hurry. Really, it's about enjoying that three-hour block of time and reflecting on the food, having great conversation with your dining companion. Nobody really needs to eat like that. You need to eat to live. But you certainly don't need to sit down and have a 200-hour, 23-course meal. It's entertainment. It's about having a great time, processing it, thinking about it. We like to think that the food is, in a lot of ways, an intellectual exercise. Sitting through a three-hour meal and having all these feelings — whether they be about the actual food or whatever the occasion is or who you're eating with — [it's] kind of checking yourself out of the pace of life for three hours and enjoying yourself."</p><p><strong>On his "Frankenstein-like" anti-griddle</strong></p><p>"It allows us to freeze things that normally don't freeze. For instance, if you take a cup full of olive oil and put it in your freezer at home overnight, you're going to wake up the next morning and it's still going to be liquid because the freezing point of olive oil is very, very low. You take a tablespoon of that olive oil and you put it on top of the anti-griddle, and it will instantly freeze. We've made olive oil lollipops, and it was savory and kind of floods the palate with this smoky paprika and roasted red pepper oil."</p><p><strong>On playing with flavor</strong></p><p>"If I present to you something that I call 'root beer float,' but it's not in a glass — it's on a plate — it's not liquid — it's solid — and it's not brown — it's completely clear — and I say 'root beer float,' and you look at it and you look at me and you think I'm crazy, I think that's a good thing, because now you're engaged. We're engaging you on so many different levels. And then the payoff is when you put that perfectly clear bite-size cube in your mouth, it tastes like a root beer float."</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 09:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-29/grant-achatz-chef-who-couldnt-taste-91176 and the World's 50 Best Restaurants are... http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-18/and-worlds-50-best-restaurants-are-85368 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-19/t1larg.noma_.restaurant.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="225" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-18/t1larg.noma_.restaurant.jpg" title="Noma named World's Best Restaurant" width="400"></p><p>At an awards ceremony held in London's Guildhall on Monday, Restaurant Magazine and S. Pellegrino's 10<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;annual "<a href="http://www.theworlds50best.com/">World's 50 Best Restaurants</a>" list was announced - and it looks like Danish cuisine reigned supreme as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.noma.dk/">Noma&nbsp;</a>was named best restaurant in the world for the second year in a row.</p><p>As a result of last year’s top ranking, the Copenhagen, Denmark spot launched Chef Rene Redzepi’s Nordic cuisine into the international culinary spotlight where more than 100,000 requests for a table were received just one day after the 2010 list was released. In addition to this year’s top honor, Denmark also beat out 23 other countries to take home gold in the&nbsp;<a href="http://culinarytravel.about.com/od/foodwineevents/qt/Bocuse-D-Or-Global-Cooking-Competition.htm">2011 Bocuse d'Or cooking competition</a>&nbsp;- often referred to as the "Culinary Olympics."</p><p>Back from across the pond, six of the 50 restaurants crowned this year are American. Chicago’s own&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/">Alinea</a>&nbsp;moved up one slot to number 6, and was also named best restaurant in North America. The remaining hail from New York City -&nbsp;<a href="http://www.danielnyc.com/">Daniel</a>&nbsp;dropped to number 11 from number 8;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.perseny.com/">Per Se</a>&nbsp;held steady at number 10;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.le-bernardin.com/">Le Bernardin</a>&nbsp;moved to number 18 dropping from number 15;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.momofuku.com/restaurants/ssam-bar/">Momofuku Ssäm Bar</a>&nbsp;dropped to number 40 from number 26, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/">Eleven Madison Park</a>&nbsp;moved up 26 spots from 2010 to land at number 24.</p><p>The illustrious and oft-debated list is compiled by The World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy - an 837-member panel of the globe's most venerated chefs, food critics, restaurateurs, gourmands and other influential industry experts.</p><p>Click&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners">here</a>&nbsp;for a complete list of the 2011 “World’s 50 Best Restaurants.”&nbsp;</p></div></div></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 01:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/2011-04-18/and-worlds-50-best-restaurants-are-85368 The day Grant Achatz got cancer http://www.wbez.org/story/alinea/day-grant-achatz-got-cancer-84216 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-24/achatz photo 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Before 2007 you might have said Chef Grant Achatz led a charmed life. He trained with renowned chef Thomas Keller at French Laundry, became executive chef at four-star-rated Trio in Evanston, found a friend and business partner in Nick Kokonas, and ultimately co-founded <a href="http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/">Alinea</a>, named by <em>Gourmet Magazine</em> as the country&rsquo;s best restaurant in 2006.</p><p>But in 2007 Achatz was struck by events so horrifying and ironic they almost seem unreal: He was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer which threatened to rob him of his sense of taste, and his life.</p><p>Miraculously, he found a medical team at the University of Chicago willing to treat him with radiation and chemotherapy instead of amputating his tongue. He beat the cancer, but only after a harrowing struggle. For months he was in so much pain that his assistant would run across the street to get Orajel every night just so he could make it through dinner service.</p><p>Achatz and Kokonas recently spoke at the Chicago Public Library to mark the release of their new co-authored memoir, <em>Life, On the Line</em>. They told the story of coping with cancer while trying to run a world-class restaurant, and you can listen to their account in the audio excerpt posted above. Achatz starts by describing the mysterious tongue pain he had for years before he ever received a diagnosis.</p><p>This event was moderated by Eric Ferguson from 101.9 The Mix&rsquo;s <em>Eric &amp; Kathy in the Morning</em>.</p> <div><em>Dynamic Range</em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from <em>Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</em> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas spoke to an audience at the <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/">Chicago Public Library</a> in March. Click <a href="../../../../../../story/culture/food/grant-achatz-and-nick-kokonas-conversation-eric-ferguson-83957">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety, and click <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278" target="_blank">here</a> to subscribe to the <em>Dynamic Range</em> podcast.</div></p> Fri, 25 Mar 2011 21:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/alinea/day-grant-achatz-got-cancer-84216