The above is, technically, an intro to the Chicago restaurant Alinea, led by restaurateur Nick Kokonas and chef Grant Achatz, whose story I recount in The Reach of a Chef. The question “Are chefs artists?” almost always annoys me. Grant told me he considers himself as such (and not without reason). His mentor Thomas Keller considers himself, the chef, a craftsman. In a long-ago post I reprint from Reach of a Chef my chapter on chef Masa Takayama, making a case I almost argue against: that the chef can, in certain instances, rise to the level of artist. That chefs are artists is a facile assumption that is almost always wrong. To complicate matters in the funnest of possible ways, in walks Christian Seel, a chef as actual filmmaker, creating this, one of the most Read On »

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Two very good memoirs have been published by chefs I admire and whose food I have eaten many times with great satisfaction, though the experiences are wildly different.  Gabrielle Hamilton, chef of Prune has published Blood, Bones and Butter, which I reviewed for The Wall Street Journal. It was preceded by a much talked about, high-six-figure advance, which had to be returned when Hamilton failed to deliver, after which the book was repurchased and published last month. It’s a fabulous read by a very odd creature who has a visceral love of the homey food she serves at her restaurant.  Frankly, it’s exactly the kind of food I love most, personally, braises and bone marrow and offal. It’s the kind of food that chef’s love to eat when they get off work. She cooks the Read On »

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