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The Alinea Project - General Discussion


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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!

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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.

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

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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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

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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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.

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

View more of my food photography from the world's finest restaurants:

FineDiningPhotos.com

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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

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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

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

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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=

Unfortunately, Travel and Leisure got the reservation line wrong -- they must have simply called information and gotten our office number. The actual reservation line number is: 312-867-0110

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Unfortunately, Travel and Leisure got the reservation line wrong -- they must have simply called information and gotten our office number.  The actual reservation line number is:  312-867-0110

Nick, I've gone back and corrected every instance of it on this thread.

Good luck tonight! :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Chef Achatz and some of the Alinea staff were happy to participate in the 6th Annual Food and Wine Entertaining Showcase, held yesterday at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Chef G and Martin Kastner used the expanded "antenna" serviceware piece that was improved upon with the addition of Bird's Eye Maple bases added since the Harvest Moon event. It holds 20 antennas at once, each with its own base mechanism.

gallery_21344_267_1100812801.jpg

Crispy Strawberry / Foie Gras / Licorice Root was prepared and served to at least 500 patrons. It was very well received.

It was also wonderful to watch the guests interact with the serviceware. People were gently instructed to push the "puck" away from them, thereby lowering the strawberry into perfect position. This interaction produced great reactions ranging from surprise, to delight, to confusion, to giddiness. One lady ate 3 in a row -- boom boom boom -- and then demanded to know "who is the person responsible for this -- I need to know!".

gallery_21344_267_1100813069.jpg

Here you can see the antennas at various heights and the motion involved

These events have provided welcome relief from the insular nature of the jobs we are currently working on. After all, it is really all about the food and the patrons...

gallery_21344_267_1100813103.jpg

Left to Right: Martin, Nick, John, Grant, Curtis, Ryan

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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.

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

I totally missed out on Trio, but I am definitely flying out from California to see the new place. Very excited! I'd love to see Chicago too, never been.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Phenomenal! Seeing Chef Achatz's creations (and all the Alinea staff that are involved) truly do make me giddy. It is like watching the passing of the torch so to speak in the evolving periods of food and dining. Sort of like witnessing the changing of classical art movements, such as Baroque to Rococo

Rock on.

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  • 1 month later...

Chef Achatz,

When dealing with possible new employees for the kitchen what are a few main points or ideas that make you take interest and agree to grant them a stage? While on the stage how do you normally judge who does and who does not get an opportunity to stay with you longer.

In general what types of responsibilities does a competent long term stage get to take on and how is he compensated for his work?

I am sure you attract a great deal of very talented applicants with the setup of the kitchen and the integrity levels of the work but I am curious as to how you weed these down to a more elite few.

Thanks

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chef Achatz and Mr. Kokonas...

Happy New Year to you both. The aniticipation regarding Alinea's opening must be at a fever-pitch.

I have a few questions...

1 - What's happening at Alinea right now in terms of printing menus, configuring dining spaces, hiring/training staff, etc.? What big hurdles are left?

2 - Would it be possible to post an interior and exterior photo? When should we look for a website update?

3 - In the Alinea, Grant Achatz's new restaurant thread, Chef you briefly discuss how your preparation methods "[are going]" to (and by now have) impact Alinea's kitchen design and organization. To quote a June 10th posting on that thread...

"As I see it now the team will be composed of at least 15, probably closer to 20 with the presence of externs and long term stages. I am included in that count, as my role is a very involved one in day-to-day prep and service. Under me there will either be three sous chefs OR two sous chefs and a pastry chef. That is yet to be determined. All other staff will be at a chef de partie level, we will not utilize commis at Alinea. Nor will we give classical titles to the cooks such as saucier or garde manger, as the cuisine will not follow those predetermined guidelines."

Can you bring us up to date on the general organization of the kitchen brigade?

As the big day approaches, best of luck to you and the Alinea team.

Kind regards,

- CSR

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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  • 2 weeks later...

What's the latest? Any idea of an opening date? How are preparations coming along?

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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Thank you all for your questions. Sorry for the delayed response...

Everything is moving along very well with the development of Alinea. There are so many different aspects of development occurring simultaneously that it is hard to summarize the progress... but here is an attempt.

The Restaurant Build-Out

While there were early fits-and-starts in construction, it is now progressing at a rapid pace. The entire interior of the building was gutted down to the concrete and brick, and we have replaced all of the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. We are adding several stairways, ducts, etc, so major concrete cutting and steel reinforcement of the structure was done. At this point we are pressing forward with the kitchen installation, framing, and finish work.

Web Site

We have finished development of Phase II of the Alinea website and are simply awaiting some photographic scans to be completed before we launch it -- likely by the end of January. Unlike the trailer, this will be a site that includes photos of the food, detailed menus, and bios of the staff and the creative team. As construction finishes, we will add interior and exterior shots of the restaurant itself, as well as update the content as Alinea evolves.

Reservations

We have decided to open the reservation book on February 7th for dates beginning in May. We believe that we will likely be open before then, but certain time constraining issues remain vague at best... licensing, permitting, etc. If we do open before May, we will post that information on our website, and of course, here on eGullet. If you have emailed us at the info@alinearestaurant.com email, or called our reservation line, you will be receiving an email this week with more details, and will be getting another email in early February before the reservation book opens.

Chef Achatz and the team continue to develop new dishes weekly, some of which will be posted on our website. In addition, the menu and wine list design are complete, the interior furnishings are all in production, and the staff is largely in place. It is an exciting thing for all of us to see how plans made nearly one year ago have begun to take real form.

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Chef Achatz and the team continue to develop new dishes weekly, some of which will be posted on our website.  In addition, the menu and wine list design are complete, the interior furnishings are all in production, and the staff is largely in place.  It is an exciting thing for all of us to see how plans made nearly one year ago have begun to take real form.

Thanks for the general update, Nick.

What are some of the latest innovations? What is the current status of some of the dishes that have already been introduced to us in their natant phases? I miss the regular information. :smile:

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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There was a very nice metion by Jeff Lyon about Alinea and our project in this week's Chicago Tribune Magazine:

"ChefG: I have a question regarding the seafood sponge." So starts an e-mail to red-hot chef Grant Achatz, who has a dialogue going with fans on www.egullet.org.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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