Chef Grant Achatz is one of the most awarded and recognized chefs in the world. Known for his innovative, emotional, and modernist style of cuisine, he has been named Best Chef in the United States by the James Beard Foundation, honored by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and has given talks and lectures on gastronomy and design at conferences and universities around the world.
Grant began working in restaurants as soon as he could walk. His parents owned a diner in Michigan, and he spent his childhood years working alongside his family. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at age 21, Grant spent a short time at Charlie Trotter’s before finding his mentor in chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry. Grant worked for a total of 5 years at the French Laundry, eventually rising to sous chef. During his time in California, he also spent a year working at La Jota vineyards. A short stage at elBulli in Roses, Spain was exceptionally influential and led Grant to seek out his first executive chef position at Trio in Evanston, IL. It was there that his creativity and desire to innovate flourished. In 2002 and 2003, respectively, Grant was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the nation’s Best New Chefs and named the Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation.
In 2004, Grant partnered with restaurant neophyte, Nick Kokonas, to build his dream restaurant: Alinea. Together, they sought to redefine fine dining in America, questioning not only culinary concepts but also the guest experience, tableware design, and restaurant bookings.
Since its opening, Alinea has been named the Best Restaurant in the World by Elite Traveler, the Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine, and has twice been awarded the Best Restaurant in North America by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Alinea holds 3 stars from the venerable Michelin Guide, held by only 14 restaurants in the United States, and 5 stars from Forbes Travel Guide. Grant and Alinea have won James Beard Awards for: Best Chef, Great Lakes (2007); Outstanding Chef (2008); Outstanding Service (2010); Who’s Who in Food & Beverage (2012); and Outstanding Restaurant (2016). In 2009, the Alinea cookbook won the James Beard Book Award for Cooking from a Professional Point of View.
In 2008, Grant was diagnosed with Stage IVb cancer of the tongue. The recommended course of treatment by multiple experts was a complete amputation of his tongue followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Even then, he faced dismal odds and was told that he likely only had 2 years to live. Instead, he sought out an innovative protocol at the University of Chicago, a grueling course of treatment that has left him with no evidence of disease since 2009. Grant and Nick documented this story in their New York Times bestselling memoir Life, On the Line. It is also featured in the nationally-released documentary movie, Spinning Plates, and Netflix’s documentary series, Chef’s Table.
In 2011, Grant followed Alinea with Next restaurant and the über-modern bar, the Aviary (which includes the retro speakeasy, The Office). In 2012, Next won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America; in 2013, The Aviary won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. In 2016, Grant opened Roister restaurant, which received 1 Michelin star in its first year and was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Restaurants of the Year in 2017.
Grant lives in Chicago and has two sons. He devotes his free time to work, even when he enjoys traveling and seeing new parts of the world.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award
- Michelin 3 Stars
Grant Achatz Demos His New Duck Press at Next | Eater | Feb 2011