Life, On the Line, the memoir by Grant Achatz, the chef of Alinea, and his business partner Nick Kokonas. It's a fascinating read for anyone who is a fan of Achatz or interested in his type of food, which has been branded molecular gastronomy, for better or worse. The book, an easy read, feels very of the moment: Achatz's new restaurant, Next, and cocktail bar, Aviary, recently opened (perhaps the book release was intentionally timed to coincide), and Achatz was also included in Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. The blurb for Time was written by one of Achatz's mentors, Thomas Keller, after whom he named one of his sons. In the memoir, Achatz mentions a young cook he worked with at Keller's restaurant French Laundry named Richard Blais. Viewers of Top Chef will recognize the name — Blais won Top Chef All-Stars last month.
Achatz also writes about a trip he makes to El Bulli, the exalted Spanish restaurant of Ferran Adrìa, which is in its final months of service. Most of us will never know the experience that is El Bulli and will have to be content with reading about other people's, but some find it to be just too much.
I'm halfway through the book, at which point Kokonas takes over the narrative (indicated by a change in typeface) in an odd transition. But I look forward to seeing how his part will contrast with what Achatz has written so far. I admire Achatz's early ambition and drive, which some might consider arrogance, but I find the book alluring and interesting and recommend it.