Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Life, On the Line By: Grant Achatz & Nick Kokonas

ISBN-13: 978-1592406975

Growing up cracking eggs in his family diner, Grant Achatz (pronounced: Ak-its) had a seemingly normal childhood.  As his parent's expanded the family trade by opening a place of their own, Grant was easily next in line to take over the diner and cook Western omelets for the rest of his life.  But Grant has a curiosity that pushed him to continue his learning and understanding of food, people and how they worked together.

Through the book we travel through Grant's childhood and his parents turbulent marriage and his memory of the business his father built and Grant's fascination with it.  In addition, we see Nick's completely opposite upbringing by a mother who's incredibly picky eating habits so heavily influenced Nick, he didn't know he even liked pizza until he was in junior high.

Life, on the Line feels like you're sitting at the kitchen table of some of the world's finest restaurants-gaining a perspective of the life and different kitchen styles of Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller and finally Grant Achatz.  Throught the entire book, you can feel the insatiable thirst of curiosity and drive that fills Achatz and even eventual foodie, Kokonas.  How their unlikely relationship formed one of the biggest restaurant powerhouses in the world, creating a menu that played to each of the senses and ideally to ones nostalgia by using the food to create not only a delicious meal, but performance art.  A restaurant that thrived even when Achatz experienced life-threatening illness that almost left him unable to taste-a sentence almost more frightening than death itself.

Life, On the Line was a beautiful, humble account of what life experiences lead up to Alinea and how those eventually formed, Next. 

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