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The Alinea Cookbook


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Moderator's Note: These posts about The Alinea Book have been split off from the Alinea restaurant topic in the Heartland forum. -- CA

I wonder when the book is coming. :wink:

Funny enough, just read this earlier today from gothamist.com:

"Visionary Chicago chef Grant Achatz made a special appearance on a cookbook panel that also featured Jeffrey Steingarten, editor Ann Bramson, and literary agent Lisa Queen. Achatz is currently being treated for a rare form of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, but remains iconoclastic as ever. The chef explained that he will self-publish the Alinea cookbook next year, and that it will be distributed by 10 Speed Press."

The entire article can be found here.

http://gothamist.com/2007/09/21/report_gothamis.php

And for those not lucky enough to have the Art Culinaire, you can see screenshots of the article on Alinea's website:

http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/pages/pre...print_main.html

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Well, since you mentioned it...

The Alinea Book is available for pre-order here.

Early purchase gets you a limited edition copy signed by chef G and the book team, as well as early access to the Alinea Mosaic, the companion web site, that will have dozens of extras. The book itself will be distributed by 10 Speed Press (!) and will ship Fall, 08.

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This is, of course, great news. I've already placed my order.

Nick and Grant, can you tell us a bit about what we can expect in the book? From the website, I can see that "book" is not really accurate; the multimedia materials of the Alinea Mosaic seem to transcend the boundaries of bound pages.

Also, what have the production steps been leading up to this point? We've talked a bit about the challenges high-end cookbooks face before (click here), and given that you're self-publishing but using 10 Speed Press to distribute, it seems that you might have some interesting information along those lines.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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To answer some of the questions posted:

The book will comprise 4 Seasonal Tour menus of 25 courses each. Every dish will have the exact recipe used in the Alinea kitchen, along with at least one photo (more often, more than one including process shots). Between these sections will be informative essays by some great writers (TBA later...).

About a year ago we started planning the book. The idea was to have Lara Kastner at the restaurant full time to photograph all of the new dishes as they were being made and evolving. Ordinarily, when producing a cookbook, the production team decides on the recipes that will be included, then hires a photographer, sets a schedule, and plates the dishes for the photo shoot. Lara, instead, erects a small studio (lights, backdrop, bounces, tripods, etc) in the front dining room 3 or 4 days per week and photographs the dishes as they are being created. To date she has taken well over a Terabyte of digital photography -- literally thousands of pictures -- of not only the finished product, but also the process in the kitchen, service staff, etc. This allows us to take some risks artistically that would normally not be possible due to a tight photography schedule.

With a recipes like Grant's it was difficult to decide exactly how much information should go into the book. Which techniques should be expounded on graphically? How much detail do you include? Some of the dishes are just 3 or 4 steps. Others have more than 20 separate recipes that must be executed in order to plate one dish. It is tough to know where to draw the line -- the book could easily go 500 pages or more and never get produced.

Our solution was to take this wealth of added information and create the Alinea Mosaic website that will be a companion piece to the book. Everyone who buys a book will receive a unique user ID and login password to the site. Process shots, recipes, sourcing and demonstration videos will be included on there and we will continue to update that site as we take more photos and create new recipes. We will have a section where book readers can ask Grant and the Alinea team questions about the recipes, post their own efforts, and generally discuss the techniques.... it should prove to be an interesting and very usable site.

This did, however, pose some issues for some publishers. Based on early layouts produced by Martin at Crucial Detail, we were offered some very sizable advances. But we were also told that no way could we then include any overlapping recipe information on our own web site. Publishers were worried that it would cut into sales. I felt very strongly (and still do!) that quite the opposite happens. Ultimately, we found our best match with 10 Speed Press who understood our vision very quickly and have been amazingly supportive.

We have decided to include both English and Metric measurements so that the ambitious home cook can tackle the recipes. We have also scaled the recipes for home use in most cases, figuring it is easier for the professional chef to scale up than for the home chef to convert down. But other than that the recipes will be exactly the ones used in the Alinea kitchen. The tempura batter recipe is worth the price of admission all by itself as far as I am concerned (my fried shrimp at home have improved immensely!).

We decided to offer pre-sales based on the number of emails and phone calls we have received asking when the book will be available. Everyone who orders early will receive a special limited edition volume signed by chef G and the production team. They will also get early access to the Mosaic which will launch on Alinea's 3rd anniversary in May. The book will ship next Fall.

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That is an amazing price for the type of book this sounds like it's going to be!  I would pre-order, but I'm not in the US.  What's up with all this chauvinistic patriotism?  :hmmm:  :biggrin:

We simply have not worked out the cost of shipping on such orders. We have had an amazing number of inquiries from around the world already and are working on a cost-effective solution to shipping overseas. The book will be heavy (literally!)... and I don't think anyone wants to pay more for shipping than for the book itself.

As soon as we have that worked out we will respond to all of those inquiries and hopefully have a live shipping quote system on the ordering form itself.

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I agree with all the acolades for Grant, but I do not like the sticky website for ordering the book. I was checking it out , and was unable to close it without placing an order. I had to shutdown my computer in order to close the window.

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I agree with all the acolades for Grant, but I do not like the sticky website for ordering the book. I was checking it out , and was unable to close it without placing an order. I had to shutdown my computer in order to close the window.

I am sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience while visiting the site. There is no 'sticky' element built into it and I believe your experience is an issue specific to your machine. However, if there are others experiencing similar problems, please PM me, including your OS/browser information, and we will do our best to resolve it.

Martin Kastner

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I agree with all the acolades for Grant, but I do not like the sticky website for ordering the book. I was checking it out , and was unable to close it without placing an order. I had to shutdown my computer in order to close the window.

I am sorry to hear you had an unpleasant experience while visiting the site. There is no 'sticky' element built into it and I believe your experience is an issue specific to your machine. However, if there are others experiencing similar problems, please PM me, including your OS/browser information, and we will do our best to resolve it.

Martin Kastner

I just surfed there on my MacBook Pro using safari and have zero problems. I also had no problems ordering my copy!

I thank you all for offering this amazing book.

The only problem with my order is that I will have to wait so long :-)

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Any chance of a paypal function? I don't have a credit card, only Solo at the moment. I imagine maestro would be ok, but i dont have that.

It's now on pre-order at Amazon.co.uk, if that helps (and probably cheaper, once the postage costs are added), though that obviously means no pre-launch website access.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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  • 2 weeks later...

The countdown begins. One week until the Alinea Mosaic should be opening for those who pre-ordered from the site. I haven't received any information other than my order confirmation since I placed the order so I'm assuming everything is still on track.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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