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The Alinea Project - General Discussion

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#31 chefg

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 10:34 AM

I have a question about the structure of the kitchen work/prep.
It seems from reading about people's experiences at Trio and seeing pictures, that a lot of the courses are done prior to service. I was wondering if Alinea would be the same way, and how much of the menu items would be cooked a la minute.

That is not really true. Of course, as with any well organized high level kitchen, a great deal of prep has to be in place in order to be successful, especially with several intricate dishes to be served each service. At Trio we did prep for the service only, in other words very little food carried over from day to day. The exception being large items like veal stock and braised foodstuffs like artichokes.We did not employ a prep team, each chef would come in around 10 am and be responsible for all of the items on their station. For the majority of the mise en place it was estimated what we would need for the given night, if any remained it was either consumed by the staff or discarded. In fact, I am sure most of the cooks could tell a few stories about sprinting to the whole foods to purchase an item because not only did we not over prep, but we ran it very tight on the food and came into the building everyday.

so you are saying things like courses in the clear tubes are all done to order? Or are they just made prior to service in numbers that are estimated to be what you would need for that service?

Nothing would ever be pre-plated. One end of the tubes are set in flavored agar prior to service to "cap" an end, but they are filled and the second end is capped to order. Of course all of the foodstuffs to be placed in the tubes would be prepared during the day IE the tapioca, sorrel coulis, flavored gelatin...however the foie gras puree is made to order.

Edited by chefg, 26 August 2004 - 10:36 AM.

--
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Alinea

#32 col klink

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 12:12 PM

Where does the name Alinea come from? Is there a story behind it?

Shalmanese, try the first post here Alinea: The Awakening.

#33 steverino

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 03:02 PM

Talk about being the proverbial "fly on the wall"!

This could well turn out to be one of the most captivating things done on the internet, especially for those with more than just a passing interest in cutting edge cuisine.

The potential here is beyond belief, and this is going to be one hell of a ride! I'm glad I'm along for it!

Good luck and Godspeed to all involved.
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#34 fifi

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Posted 30 August 2004 - 09:52 PM

I am wondering if there is any thought being appied to this critical situation.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#35 nick.kokonas

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 06:39 AM

The interior design of the building has been given a tremendous amount of thought and will entail its own topic section.... likely to begin in a few weeks.

Safe to say that the same level of detailed planning is being applied to the bathrooms as to the rest of the building.

#36 bigorre

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 07:04 AM

I would be interested to know what kind of wine-spirits matching one can expect during a meal at alinea.Knowing that many courses would be served and in bite size portions, is there a special approach concerning the wine-spirit matching during the meal...thanxs....

#37 chefg

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Posted 07 September 2004 - 07:22 AM

I would be interested to know what kind of wine-spirits matching one can expect during a meal at alinea.Knowing that many courses would be served and in bite size portions, is there a special approach concerning the wine-spirit matching during the meal...thanxs....

View Post




We will in time devote a whole topic to the wine program. I suspect that our sommelier Joe Catterson will contribute his philosophy to the food and wine pairing at Alinea.
--
Grant Achatz
Chef/Owner
Alinea

#38 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 09:01 AM

A brief story about Alinea's web presence appeared in today's Chicago Sun-Times...

Chef Grant Achatz is giving diners a taste of what to expect at his new restaurant -- but he's not doing it with food.

Achatz has come up with the culinary equivalent of an online movie trailer for Alinea, scheduled to open in January


Click here for a link to the complete article.

Alinea's web site

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#39 docsconz

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Posted 08 September 2004 - 04:10 PM

Cool "trailer". too bad there wasn't a mention of the Alinea project on eGullet in the article.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#40 TJHarris

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 04:39 PM

ChefG,

I am curious as to the design of the kitchen space and what percentage of the overall square footage of the restaurant will be devoted to the BOH. Will it be possible at some point as opening gets closer that you might be able to upload floor plans for us techno geeks to peruse?
Tobin


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#41 chefg

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 07:24 AM

ChefG, 

I am curious as to the design of the kitchen space and what percentage of the overall square footage of the restaurant will be devoted to the BOH. Will it be possible at some point as opening gets closer that you might be able to upload floor plans for us techno geeks to peruse?

View Post



Tobin:

We are working on gethering material for a kitchen design post. Within that post I plan to explain the kitchen layout, why we did what we did and go into great detail as far as equipment purchased and its intended use. I can tell you that the kitchen will be 980 sq. feet.
--
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Alinea

#42 ducphat30

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 08:34 AM

I can tell you that the kitchen will be 980 sq. feet




What is the total square footage of the restaurant? Is there only going to be the main kitchen, or will you have additional prep area?
Patrick Sheerin

#43 nick.kokonas

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 09:02 AM

The restaurant is approximately 5,600 square feet over two floors and spread among 4 dining areas. There is also a 1,500 sq. ft. basement which will be finished out and will hold wine storage and offices. There will be a second floor service area of good size, but all prep will be done in the kitchen proper.

Chef Achatz is preparing a significant post on the kitchen layout, and we will also have a topic devoted to the design of the restaurant space -- and which will likely include commentary by the architect and designer.

#44 chefg

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 10:22 AM

The restaurant is approximately 5,600 square feet over two floors and spread among 4 dining areas.  There is also a 1,500 sq. ft. basement which will be finished out and will hold wine storage and offices.  There will be a second floor service area of good size, but all prep will be done in the kitchen proper.

Chef Achatz is preparing a significant post on the kitchen layout, and we will also have a topic devoted to the design of the restaurant space -- and which will likely include commentary by the architect and designer.

View Post


What is the total square footage of the restaurant?  Is there only going to be the main kitchen, or will you have additional prep area?

View Post


Total sqare feet of the building is as follows:

Kitchen: 980sq.ft.
Dining spaces: 2200 sq.ft.
Basement (used for cellar and offices): 1500 sq.ft.
Remainder is composed of bathrooms, entryway, service areas ect..: 1000 sq.ft.

There will only be one kitchen, on the first floor.
--
Grant Achatz
Chef/Owner
Alinea

#45 TJHarris

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 01:07 PM

Chef,

Thank you and I will look forward to further details.

Edited by TJHarris, 22 September 2004 - 01:08 PM.

Tobin


It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.


#46 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 04:09 PM

Not sure if this is the best place to post this, but since this is where the Grantophiles are gathering... :wink:

From today's Mercury News, an interesting story about how scent affects the dining experience. Of course, chefg's considered the authority on this subject...

Before leaving Trio this spring, [Chef Grant] Achatz re-created the smell of fall for a pheasant dish by having a server pour boiling water at the table into a bowl filled with hay, leaves, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin and apple slices. And to bring the smoke-fire smell of the kitchen into the dining room, he lit applewood branches on fire, blew them out and put them on a covered plate. At the table, the cover was lifted, and the smoke drifted out, amplifying the meaty aroma of the accompanying dish of rib-eye, smoked beef tongue and morels.

``Smell pulls on emotional triggers,'' Achatz says. ``With the autumn dish, people would say, `This reminds me of when I was with my grandpa on a hayride.' The smoke dish always conjured up a campfire. It became more than just food; it became a connection to their past.''

Cooking scents - Adding Aromas Elevates Dining to an Art Form

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#47 bleudauvergne

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 08:31 AM

Well, I've been watching this for awhile now, and it has begun to manifest at my table and in my kitchen in various ways... It's fascinating and I can't help but be inspired by the creative process at work here. I find most satisfying your illustration of one of the serving appareils designed in an earlier thread being put to actual use in the presentation of what's being developed (the pbj with stem in the food lab thread).

It is affecting me so much in fact, it's been on my mind almost constantly over the past few weeks. My husband is wondering if I am alright at dinner time, actually. :huh: I have two questions -

The other night I found myself discussing this with some people at a dinner party. There seem to be two opinions here in France, some completely optimistic and enthusiastically supporting this trend in food preparation, presentation, and experimentation. These are the people who follow restaurant trends carefully and have substantial experience in fine dining. These are the people who have learned, through experience, that they can achieve a state of implicit trust in a chef to create their dining experience. The other are people who are suspect of what they perceive to be industrial processes simply done on a small scale, and even venture to say that they not only resist this concept strongly, but it smacks of manipulation, and they'll have none of it. These are the two poles I encounter as I discuss this with the people in my entourage. My question to you is: Are you prepared for an onslaught of general suspicion, and in what ways are you preparing to explain this to a mainstream public (represented in the press) who may not understand your approach or have the supporting context available to them?

My second question: There are certain food combinations that evoke strong sense memory response in specific cultures. These combinations are present in an emotional memory bank we carry with us for all of our lives. The PBJ calls to mind a plethora of associations for me as an American. However, present this to a person who never come to a full understanding of the association of pbj and childhood, and he's relying purely on taste. When you test these preparations, are you testing them on people with different cultural backgrounds, or is this meant to be an exclusively American, bref uniquely American sensual experience?

Your devoted fan,

#48 chefg

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 10:03 PM

My question to you is:  Are you prepared for an onslaught of general suspicion, and in what ways are you preparing to explain this to a mainstream public (represented in the press) who may not understand your approach or have the supporting context available to them? 

My second question:  There are certain food combinations that evoke strong sense memory response in specific cultures.  These combinations are present in an emotional memory bank we carry with us for all of our lives.  The PBJ calls to mind a plethora of associations for me as an American.  However, present this to a person who never come to a full understanding of the association of pbj and childhood, and he's relying purely on taste.  When you test these preparations, are you testing them on people with different cultural backgrounds, or is this meant to be an exclusively American, bref uniquely American sensual experience? 

View Post


To some degree we have been dealing with this suspicion for a few years now. Our cuisine is too personal, too expressive to please everyone. Some will love it, some will dislike it, and some will love to hate it. And that is OK. Because of the reasons I listed above I think the best thing to do is let the food speak. The experience is not only personal to the creator but even more so for the guest. There is no way I could tell you how you would feel after a certain course or a particular meal. I can verbally articulate the “style” in which we create, but is that really an effective way to communicate this medium if it is judged on the interaction with an individual?

Honestly, I don’t view what we do as that different. I don’t see why it requires special explanation. Our goals are the same as any team trying to provide the best experience at the highest level. If we choose an unconventional method to help us make that personalized experience why should it matter? The foundation is there and nobody can take that away from us.

The fact that some of the more whimsical dishes highlight Americana is, of course because I am American and we are in America. We also play in the same manner with other cultures cuisines, having based dishes on Thai ice tea, “Hassenpheffer” of rabbit and Sri Lankan Eggplant pickle to name a few. I would imagine that most of the diners did not fully understand or have memory reference to some of those dishes, but I think unfamiliarity can be just as powerful as comfort. And we still have the characteristics that make the dish desirable on a technical level, even if certain cultural references are lost.
--
Grant Achatz
Chef/Owner
Alinea

#49 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 11 November 2004 - 04:24 PM

Chef,

It's still weeks before the opening, yet you and Alinea received a "special mention" in Travel + Leisure Magazine's list of "Best New American Restaurants 2004"...

CHEF TO WATCH During his three-year stint heading the kitchen of Trio, the Thomas Keller-trained wunderkind Grant Achatz got it all: four stars from the Chicago Tribune, the title of James Beard Rising Star, and fans who clamored for his infusions and outré ice creams (olive oil, anyone?). At Alinea (1723 N. Halsted St.; 312-867-0110; dinner for two $125), due to open next month [January, 2005], Achatz will experiment with savory truffle bonbons (frozen on the outside, liquid inside), freeze-dried strawberries encased in foie gras tempered with cocoa butter, serving them in an equally cutting-edge space. Curious for a taste of the future? Start calling for reservations.

...does such coverage make you feel any additional pressure? I thought it was particularly exciting to see Alinea make the 2004 list when it won't even open until 2005 :smile:

=R=
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#50 docsconz

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 08:51 AM

What is the latest on a projected opening?
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#51 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 08:55 AM

Chef,

Can you tell us how the fundrairser at the Museum of Contemporary Art went last night?

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#52 nick.kokonas

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 02:57 PM

Can you tell us how the fundrairser at the Museum of Contemporary Art went last night?


Actually, Ron, The Food and Wine event at the MCA is tomorrow night. Chef has prepared a beautiful one-bite -- we will report after the event.


What is the latest on a projected opening?


Unfortunately it keeps getting written in the press that we will be opening in early January -- I think we are beholden to an early, off the record report that was published and then keeps getting referenced. While that was our goal a long time ago, the ambitious design for the interior and the usual red tape will likely mean that we open late in the first quarter of 2005. Is Feb possible?... sure it is. But we have every intention of opening only when everything is polished and all of the proper permits are in place. Some of those are variables beyond our immediate control.

Now that construction is proceeding, we will get a clearer picture of the opening date in the next few weeks and will likely open the reservation line once we can be reasonably certain of our opening week.

Thanks for your patience!

#53 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 03:16 PM

Can you tell us how the fundrairser at the Museum of Contemporary Art went last night?


Actually, Ron, The Food and Wine event at the MCA is tomorrow night. Chef has prepared a beautiful one-bite -- we will report after the event.

View Post

Thanks, Nick. I look forward to hearing about it.

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#54 bleachboy

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 03:33 PM

Totally new topic -- I would have created a new topic, but the BBS software wouldn't let me.

ChefG: How would you feel about doing a pre-opening night for eGulleters? My wife and I both enjoyed a tour de force at Trio ("He's really cute!" my wife gushed) and we'd definitely make the trip up to Chicago for such an event.

I think that eGulleters would be a great way for you to do a practice run. We could slam your kitchen and your wait staff, and perhaps we could have a little round-table style conversation after service was over to discuss the experience. Alinea notepads all around!
Don Moore
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#55 docsconz

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 03:52 PM

I would fly in for that if I could arrange the time.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#56 noambenami

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 04:22 PM

As would I.

#57 Jake

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 04:56 PM

Yep, that would be a great trip.

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#58 jeffj

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 09:02 PM

ChefG:  How would you feel about doing a pre-opening night for eGulleters?  My wife and I both enjoyed a tour de force at Trio ("He's really cute!" my wife gushed) and we'd definitely make the trip up to Chicago for such an event.

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This is a great idea...my wife and I would fly out from California for this.

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#59 tanabutler

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 11:23 PM

Hey, Nick and ChefG, do you want to fly me in, too? The more the merrier! I could bring an Etch-a-Sketch instead of my digital cameras and do SUCH a good report.

(wink, wink, I do understand you both have an actual sense of humor.)

No, really. Seriously.

heh

#60 TJHarris

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 03:44 AM

Hey... Don't you guys think it is kinda rude to invite your selves to a pre opening?











BTW... I could make it to C-town too for that. :wink:
Tobin


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