Martinez-2@540

                                                          I’m in Chicago this weekend interviewing and hanging out with Grant Achatz. Grant, executive chef of Chicago’s Alinea, Next, and the innovative cocktail hub Aviary, is of course one of the most talented cooks and chefs in the country, but what makes this relationship special for me is that I first met Grant at the French Laundry, where he was, when I arrived to discuss writing The French Laundry Cookbook with Thomas Keller, a 23-year-old working garde manger station. I think I’ll be reflecting on all that’s happened in this nearly two-decade span. Until then, a repost of one of my favorite cocktails, of my own creation and named Read On »

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Anthony Bourdain On Today's Chefs.

A few months ago, in Vegas with Anthony Bourdain and the Parts Unknown crew, I had uncommonly sweet digs and a lot of downtime. Tony probably speaks with more chefs around the world than any other person living. So in between his facial and his pedicure, I talked to him: M.R.: What issues do you see facing chefs today? I think a number of chefs are trying to figure out how to be good citizens of the world, and also serve the one percent. Trying to find a balance when their whole business model is built up around expensive markup of bottles of wine, only the very best parts of the fish, the rest has to be disposed of one way or another. A lot of chefs are trying to reconcile that. Chefs generally are good-hearted Read On »

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Christian Seel’s newest video for Next’s Steakhouse menu, via Vimeo.

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Among the books that caught my eye this season, two of the most lovely are The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen. I’m biased on the Midwestern book, as it’s my home turf, but the Minnesotan Thielen, who logged serious years as a cook and chef at some of the best restaurants in Manhattan until she began a family, brings new life to recipes that are so at home in this part of America, dishes featuring our lake fish and our abundant venison, and vibrant takes on pot roasts and meat pies, recipes from simple salads to more elaborate preparations for headcheese and red current jelly. The publisher sent me an extra copy—it will be a GIVEAWAY to a commenter, just name your favorite cookbook (other Read On »

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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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