Hardcover, 390 pages, Penguin Group USA, 27.50, published March 3 2011
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Life, on the Line A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas Amazon » Independent Booksellers » Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How? Conversely, as its title suggests, Life, On the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, is a memoir of undiluted ambition. By age 16, Grant Achatz already dreamed of owning “a great restaurant, a famous one.” With fanatical dedication, he trained in the most celebrated kitchens in the world: Charlie Trotter’s, The French Laundry and ElBulli. At 29, he won the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award. Two years later, he opened avant-garde Alinea in Chicago. Gourmet magazine named it the Best Restaurant in America. And then, Achatz was diagnosed with Stage 4 tongue cancer. To have any chance of surviving at all, this top chef would literally have to have his tongue cut out.
Written by both Achatz and his partner, Nick Kokona, Life, On the Line, has the fundamental ingredients of a modern-day Greek drama. And, like any good culinary memoir, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes dish, too.