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The Astor Center was the scene last Thursday night of the NY Public's first opportunity to taste Grant Achatz' cooking in their home city. Grant Achatz, Nick Kokonas and a crew from the restaurant, Alinea, in Chicago were in the Big Apple to promote the eponymous new book from the restaurant and to have a party. At $250pp, there was no evidence of a recession as the Astor Center event was extremely well attended.

The NYC dining public was treated to Achatz classics like "hot potato, cold potato," a dish that combines potato, hot Yukon Gold sphere and cold potato soup with a bit of Parmesan cheese, butter, chive some truffle and sea salt with the novel presentation of a pin and a paraffin bowl as well as the always enjoyable "black truffle explosion" with more black truffle, ravioli filled with black truffle "spheres", Parmesan slices and wilted romaine lettuce. Needless to say, given the crowds, the lines for these legendary delights were long throughout the event as it took time to assemble each serving.

Other, newer and less well known dishes were also presented. One of which even involved a wall installation that was a play on a now classic Alinea centerpiece, the Ohio honeycomb. With this installation, the guest had to punch through the paper honeycomb to reach a shrimp crisp locate within each cell of the installation. This was clever, fun and tasty.

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Thanks to Steven Shaw for being the hand model in the photos.

As busy as the event was, even Nick Kokonas, Achatz' business partner in Alinea, was thrown into the mix, serving "pumpkin with smoked salt" from the famous Alinea antenae. Despite all the culinary delights and theater in evidence, as always the star of the show was Grant Achatz himself. Chef Achatz welcomed the crowd to the event and over the latter half tirelessly sat at a table dedicating and signing an Alinea book for each person who attended the event.

The event was a success and many a New Yorker, who had never previously been able to experience Alinea, now were able to have a taste of it. I am sure that many an appetite became even more whetted for the full experience.

It was great to see a number of eGullet Society members there, too!

For more photos from the event, please see my blog.

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.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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You have to wonder if Achatz, a Thomas Keller protegé, would be tempted to do as Keller did, and open a NYC clone of his insanely popular Chicago restaurant.

I know the thought has crossed his mind, however, I am not aware of anything imminent. Given the current economy, I doubt that there will be anything in the near future. It is clear though that Chef Achatz is quite comfortable with the staff he has running Alinea, as he has stepped away from the restaurant much more than he has in the past, including during the depths of his illness. In addition to the Astor Center event, Starchefs ICC this past September and Madrid Fusión in January, Grant will be doing the special dinners at Per Se and The French laundry with Thomas Keller as well as Keller's joining him in Chicago for a dinner at Alinea. They should be amazing dinners, although the price tags are out of my league.

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.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Achatz has talked in the past about maybe opening restaurants in San Francisco and/or Tokyo but I don't think he's ever been too interesting in opening in NYC.

At the NYPL event there was talk about a new york restaurant. In a joking manner chef mentioned that every time he thought about opening a new york restaurant, he would give Wiley a call and he would talk him out of it. They discussed the new york dining scene and how classical and unadventurous it can be.

My food and ideas CookDiegoCook

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