Widely regarded as one of America’s premier chefs, Grant Achatz’s place on this list could rightfully be considered a foregone conclusion. Grant’s has held 3 Michelin Stars since 2011, and in 2010 he was included in Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. In 2008, Grant won the James Beard Foundation award for “Outstanding Chef,” and Grant’s first restaurant Alinea has taken home a slew of awards, including Gourmet magazine’s “Best Restaurant in America” title in 2006. More recently, Alinea took the number one spot in Elite Traveler’s “Elite 100 Restaurants.”
Like many chefs on this list, Grant considers his work to be a form of artistry, an expression of the creativity that has served him so well in his passion thus far. His dishes are informed as much by their aesthetic appeal as they are their taste, and Grant’s focus on the both the look and the taste makes each dining experience just that- an experience.
Grant is considered one of the leading authorities in molecular gastronomy, and some credit the success of this culinary movement to his daring approach and willingness to push the boundaries of what a chef can do.
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As a product of generations of restaurateurs, Grant is recognized for his unique take on American classics; in fact, he refers to his cuisine as “Progressive American.” Pairing new techniques with all the regional culinary staples and oddities America has to offer, Grant consistently redefines what is considered “American” cuisine- often for the better.
Following on Grant’s continued success with Alinea (located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood), his restaurant Next (opened in 2011 in Chicago’s West Loop section) has gained widespread acclaim for its unique approach to the dining experience. Patrons must purchase tickets in advance, the same way they would to a sporting event or concert. Next’s space also includes Grant’s bar, The Aviary, as well as a 14-seat, invite-only speakeasy in the basement called The Office.
Alinea’s offerings include inventive combinations like king crab with passionfruit, heart of palm and allspice, woolly pig with fennel, orange and squid, and burn morels served with ramps, fiddlehead fern and miner’s lettuce. And though Achatz has said he prefers to focus less on the “shock value” of molecular gastronomy and more on the emotional component, it is clear that his knack for finding new ways to impress and amaze his guests is as strong as ever.